Watching his new special They Put It Out There, it's hard not to feel a little bad for Pablo Francisco. I remember listening to his CD (I guess it must've been Sausage, released around the same time as his Comedy Central Special), and finding it funny. Watching him in 2011, he looks like a comic who's been completely steamrolled by his surroundings: the popularity of a comedian like Dane Cook, the popularity of his own bit about movie trailers, and his own immature sense of humor.
Back in 2000, his "movie trailer" bit, where he mimics trailer voice-over artists like the late Don LaFontaine and performs a whole fake trailer, was certainly the one I responded to the most, and seems to have been the one that had the most reach out of his "Comedy Central Presents" routines. On the album, he did voices on at least one or two additional tracks, but I don't remember anything like the frequency and insistency with which he lays his vocal stylings on the viewer in They Put It Out There. The first five minutes (which seem like twenty) are a riff on techno music that more than sets the stage for the other 71 minutes of the special: sound effects and repetition. He bleeps, he bloops, he thumps, and he scratches, all with the intensity and speed of the world's most hyperactive child.
Sadly, the jokes aren't much more sophisticated: not only has Francisco never found a moment where a quacking fart sound isn't funny, he has no qualms about performing one, then repeating it ad nauseum for the next two minutes. A later bit finds him getting into a riff about Smart Cars, which he says in a certain way, and after less than a minute, I never wanted to hear him say "Smart Car!" again. For a man who is on the verge of turning 38, an alarming amount of his act is about sex. His techno music riff eventually involves the imaginary DJ character dropping in the sound of his girlfriend giving him a blowjob. Francisco invents a Rock Band successor called Porno Star. An extended segment involves his trip to the Adult Entertainment Expo. He talks about the challenge of getting a blowjob in a "Smart Car!" By the time he's arrived at midgets having sex, the special still has 45 minutes to go. Many of these jokes rely on extremely tired stereotypes about his subjects, and Francisco gets more and more lax about trying to hide it as the special continues.
That said, the worst part isn't the weak comedy itself, but that Francisco is so dedicated to it. There is no denying that Francisco throws himself into the material, body and soul, evidenced by the sweat pouring down his face during any given bit, or the way he starts out going so fast, he's literally unable to speak an entire sentence without interrupting himself. Between the frantic energy, the juvenile slant to the jokes, and weirdest of all, the bizarre "branding" of a logo made from Francisco's initials on the stage, on his clothes, and on the DVD itself that's painfully reminiscent of the "Super Finger," it's hard not to think he's stealing Dane Cook's superstar playbook, and it looms over the show. The material often begs to be labeled edgy, down to Francisco blurting out the title of the show as his defense at the end of several inoffensive bits. Admittedly, his technique seems to work fine on the audience, who roars at every joke, but as the special drags on, that perspiration looks less like exertion and more like flop sweat. Francisco puts it out there -- his desperation to get the laugh -- and, like one of his fart gags, it's not pretty.
The Video and Audio
Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, They Put It Out There teeters on the edge between acceptable and terrible. The red lights of Francisco's stage appear to be on the verge of bleeding, and the contrast struggles to solidify Francisco's black clothing and the black background of the set. Dolby Digital 2.0 audio works a little better, managing to spread the sound of the crowd a decent amount, while picking up all of Francisco's vocal shifts and twists. English subtitles are also provided.
A few additional bits are included on the DVD. "Infomercial" (2:21) is a riff on using the n-word on stage that's a tiny bit inspired, but that enjoyment is muted by the embarrassing glee with which Francisco performs it. "Outtake - Powder" (1:17) is an excised, almost behind-the-scenes moment when a makeup artist comes out on stage and powders Francisco's sweaty face. "Fans" (1:17) is one of those montages they usually have on these kind of specials where they interview people in line and they quote some of the routines. "Photo Shoot" (0:31) very briefly documents the session likely done for the DVD cover. Finally, "Scandinavian Sunglasses" (0:38) is a YouTube-style clip of Francisco trying on various types of sunglasses and doing one of his usual impressions based on the glasses.
Trailers for Alonzo Bodden: Who's Paying Attention?, John Pinette: I'm Still Hungry, Lavelle Crawford: Can a Brother Get Some Love?, Ben Bailey: Road Rage...and Accidental Ornithology play before the main menu.
Maybe I've artificially built up my hazy memories of Francisco's earlier work, but this new DVD paints a picture of a man desperately trying to remain relevant and hip by stretching his most popular routine and laying on the immature humor as thickly as possible. By the time he's doing an actual sequel to said routine to end the show, you'll probably wish he'd kept it to himself. Skip it.
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