In 10 Words or Less
The Nerdist downloads some funny
Loves: Stand-up comedy, Chris Hardwick
Likes: Nerd culture
Dislikes: That silver suit
Hates: Hipster culture
I've been a fan of Chris Hardwick and his wide-ranging Nerdist empire for a long time now (having been a member of the Node from its inception) so I may not be the most objective reviewer when it comes to this DVD. However, my wife does not indulge in the nerdier things in life, instead just barely putting up with my own interest in comic books, action figures and video games. However, when we sat down to watch Hardwick's first hour-long stand-up special, she was laughing as hard as I was in many places, resulting in her often saying "He really is funny!"
It's not hard to see why she (and many others) feel that way. Despite breaking the laws of fashion with his odd silver suit, he redeemed himself with one of the most consistently funny hours in recent memory, covering a wide range of topics, from what it is to grow up nerdy to his unfortunate history with animals and an assortment of sexual topics. I wouldn't describe Hardwick as a "clean comic," like Brian Regan, but the level of raunch in his act was a bit surprising. You just don't expect a guy who spends large chunks of his time talking about chess club and MySpace to segue into discussing the feel of shark vagina and Teutonic genital grooming.
Part of what makes him so much fun is the level of enthusiasm in his performance and the effort made, including his voices and physicality. When he explains why Benjamin Franklin's pick of a turkey over the eagle as a symbol for America, it's not just the perfect reasoning that make it hilarious. The way he imitates a turkey as a stereotypical 'Merican is brilliant. The same goes for his portrayal of dweeby Randy, the result of old parents, his Twilight Zone bit and his crazy, white guy defense, not to mention the hamster chaos of his youth. No one at the show seems to be having as much fun as Hardwick, simply because it would be hard to top the joy of a man bouncing around like an Old West prospector.
While much of Hardwick's act is either filthily silly or downright geeky, referencing sex with your dog the masculinity-boosting effects of He-Man riding a tiger and everything in between (including those online film reviewers who are just frustrated wannabe writers (nuh uh!)) he's also pretty astute when it comes to commenting on society, even if he's not quite politically-correct about it. While he won't win many points among the Jeff Dunham fans out there for his takedowns of flyover-country mouth-breathers, his bits about the similarities between bros and nerds and his solution for teen pregnancy in the face of teen obesity are rather inspired. Chris Hardwick: he makes you laugh and he makes you think...about sexy viking roleplaying.
Inside a standard keepcase (with an awesome comics-inspired cover), you get a one-disc release, with a static menu offering options to play the special, select chapters, check out the extras and adjust the subtitles. There are no audio options, while subtitles are available in English SDH.
While DVD can't complete with Blu-Ray on visuals, it can certainly look better than this, as the anamorphic widescreen transfer is a tad soft, with some angles, particularly the wide shots, looking almost hazy. In close-ups, there's some nice detail, and you can get a good look at the textures on that awful suit, while the colors are appropriate throughout. There are no noticeable issues with compression artifacts.
Are Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks on stand-up DVDs a trend now? Are we going backward as a society? Sure, you can hear each and every joke clearly, and Hardwick enjoys good separation from the crowd, but everything lives in a center-balanced up-front presentation that leaves you watching instead of placing you in the middle of the scene. Come on guys, you're better than this.
The extras focus on Hardwick's musical duo with Mike Phirman, Hard 'N Firm, featuring two of their comedic songs, "Abraham Lincoln" (6:20) and "El Corazon," (7:41) with visual accompaniment behind them. Both songs are funny and musically sound, though the spanish-language gimmick of "Corazon" lasts far less as long as the actual song.
Also available is the "Totally Hidden Easter Egg" (8:26), which is similarly musical, but is focused on some technical difficulties suffered by the pair. Even when things aren't going right, they are very funny.
The Bottom Line
If you're a nerd or love nerd culture, as I do, Hardwick is fantastically entertaining and wickedly funny, but if you're neither, like my wife, he's still hysterical, utilizing funny voices and an enthusiastic delivery to craft a consistently funny act. The DVD looks and sounds good, and throws in a few quality extras for the fans, making it well worth adding to your collection.
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.