As a fan of stand-up comedy, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I didn't know much about John Pinette or his brand of humor before watching Still Hungry. Every TV spot I ever saw for him, made his stage show look like a non-stop Lewis Black rant with the focus placed squarely on food. Having watching his 80 minute long special, I am happy to report that my initial impression wasn't entirely accurate. While I am still a fair distance off from labeling myself a 'fan', I can understand the appeal of what he has to offer on stage.
Although Pinette covers a variety of topics in his show, it is safe to say that he loves talking about food. In fact, his focus is more singular than I have seen from any comedian in quite a while. Too often, I find comics nervously skipping around from topic to topic because they don't have an effective theme to tie their material together. Pinette lunges to the other extreme by taking minor detours for slice of life vignettes only to quickly return to his first love, food.
He makes his obsession quite apparent from the start by riffing on the dangers of placing a Weight Watchers center right next to a Coldstone creamery. From there he marvels at the countless cake shows that populate the TV landscape before settling on the audacity required to label oneself the 'Cake Boss'. As the husband of a cake decorator, I especially enjoyed this segment. When Pinette suggested a drinking game centered on utterances of Fondant, I felt myself quickly warming to him.
After expressing his disdain for arugula and frou-frou paninis, he launches into an extended bit about weird retail practices. They include the rampant use of coupons at Bed Bath & Beyond stores and the hard-sell tactics surrounding warranties supplied by electronics stores. This is one of the weaker segments as Pinette gives in to his baser instincts and turns the bit into a screamy, one-note joke that overstays its welcome. Fortunately, he is quick to redeem himself with a sharply observant bit about the mysterious role of gluten in our food.
A fun bit of storytelling sees him at a Rib Festival in the Iowa State Fair. While the material for this segment is fairly run-of-the-mill, it does afford Pinette the opportunity to bust out a creepy-cute voice that made me think of Gollum on a bender. After trudging through another take on present-day flight restrictions (honestly, TSA searches are the airline food of modern comedy), Pinette offers a few tales from the road with mixed results. His story of performing in Canada is one of the highlights of the show but it is followed by a long, dry stretch that closes out the act with him affectionately ragging on Scotland.
I'm a little torn about Pinette's performance here. While it's clear that a good chunk of the show is right in his wheelhouse, whenever he strays into foreign territory like store warranties and the perils of air travel he tends to falter. This also has the unfortunate effect of making the show seem much longer than it is. Time flies when you're laughing your ass off but it slows to a crawl during the awkward patches that don't quite work. While Pinette's material never feels wildly original or edgy, he understands his fans and seems to deliver as per their expectations if the crowd response is anything to go by. You simply have to decide if an hour and change of food gags is your cup of tea.
The show was presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. The image was fairly clear with reasonable shadow detail. The color palette favored blacks, blues and reds which popped without smearing. Altogether, the presentation was acceptable for the material at hand.
The audio was presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix. With a stand-up act, the comedian on stage and accompanying crowd response are all that matter. The audio track accurately conveyed Pinette's delivery and let the audience participate without drowning him out. English SDH subtitles were available.
The release features numerous short extras. First up, we have a Tour of Chicago (2:56) with Pinette driving around the city and pointing out restaurants he enjoys. We also get a glimpse of him in a radio interview which gets expanded in the next featurette, Worst Snowstorm in 1000 Years (1:34). A Photo Shoot (0:22) offers up Pinette mugging for promo shots in front of a green screen. In the Make-Up Chair (0:44) follows this trend as he cracks wise while getting ready for the show. Number 1 Fan (0:38), Looking for John Pinette (1:03) and The Fans (1:09) act as quick little snippets that give us a glimpse at his rabid fans who quote lines from his show and express their immense admiration.
If you love food and can listen to people talk about it for hours on end, then John Pinette's brand of comedy is tailor-made for you. Although his material isn't particularly edgy or novel, Pinette's enthusiastic delivery makes up for it when he talks about all matters related to food. When he strays outside his comfort zone, the results are far less entertaining and end up dragging the show down. With that said, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. As long as you go into this one with expectations in check, I would say it is Recommended.