In 10 Words or Less
Like listening to your funny Italian cousin tell stories
Likes: Adam Ferrara
Dislikes: Rescue Me
Hates: When comics get serious
If Adam Ferrara wasn't holding a mic on-stage, he'd probably be holding a mug of beer down at the corner bar, making his old pals laugh with his stories. Of course, with TV and movie work keeping him busy, he'd probably miss most of those stool-top nights, so this DVD helps make it easier for him to share those tales of an Italian-American New Yorker, with lots more people. Of course, if they weren't either wholly hilarious or universal, no one outside of that corner bar would care, which is certainly not the case with Ferrara.
The stories he tells tend to focus on two areas, family and relationships, both flavored by religion. What's unique about his style is the way he crafts his stories, building themes more through quick hit bits rather than longer stories, which helps keep things moving. A bit about the effect of strong coffee on his insides moves on to vacationing in Italy before quickly segueing into an oscillating Jesus fan joke, a three-step path rarely tread before. Being Italian-American makes his family an easy source for jokes, whether its less-than-reputable Uncle Tony or his gruff, grunting father, and the tight ties with Catholicism allow for more punchlines, including notes on the gaudy style of the Vatican and the creepy current Pope.
The other half of his act is about the failures he's experienced in relationships, which again have a lot to do with his family and religion, especially when he's talking about his time dating a Jewish girl, reflecting on their similarities and stark differences to big laughs. Though a lot of his dating and marriage material comes from personal experience, including a bad break-up and life lessons from his dad, he also touches on alternative lifestyles, talking about how nice it would be to have a gay go-between in his relationships, how dumb anti-gay laws are and how annoying gay pride parades are.
Ferrara is a fun presence on-stage, delivering his act with an abundance of goofy faces, silly accents and a boisterous performance, despite looking like a cross between Bobby DeNiro and a lounge singer in his tie-less all-black tux. But the final few segments lean toward the serious side, talking about coping with his father's cancer and the death of his grandmother. He peppers in little bits of humor with the sentimentality, but it's a bit of a bummer after a run of down-to-Earth hilarity. If this was a monologue, rather than a stand-up act, it would be fine to wrap up the show on growing, impactful moments like these, but I prefer to end on a big laugh.
The one-disc release is packaged in your average keepcase, with a promotional insert, and features an anamorphic, animated menu offering options to watch the show, select scenes and check out the extras. There are no audio options, no subtitles and no closed captioning.
The anamorphic widescreen transfer on the show is good but not great, with solid color, an overall clean image and an OK amount of fine detail. There are no issues with dirt or damage, and no notable issues with compression artifacts.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack offers clear, clean quality on Ferrara's voice, while pushing the crowd to the side and rear speakers, creating that sense of being in the crowd. There's nothing particularly impressive about the way the show sounds, but it is solid throughout.
The extras are slim, but considering this is a stand-up DVD, that there's any is a welcome change. Up first is an outtake from the show, as Ferrara's mic pack falls out of the leg of his pants. Killing time, he amusingly riffs a bit, until he can get some help. It's followed by a very short look behind the scenes of the photo shoot for the DVD cover, with Ferrara joking around with the attractive model, and a very short, yet amusing interview with Ferrara's parents, giving a glimpse of the family that molded him.
The Bottom Line
Ferrara's the kind of comfortable comic that's easy to warm to, because he makes it so hard to not like him, with guy-from-the-neighborhood charm and an act that straddles the line between dirty and good-natured. The DVD offers the show in fine detail, with a few minor extras, but you have to be a pretty big Ferrara fan to need to own this one.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.