If Drew Richardson was born 100 years ago, there's a good chance he'd be a household name today. (There's an even better chance that he'd be dead too, but that's another matter.) Drew, under his stage name Drew the Dramatic Fool, is a clown and slapstick artist of considerable talent, just the sort of guy who would fit in at Keystone. He's taken some of his short bits of clowning and turned them into a series of one-minute silent films that are now available for purchase on a DVD-R: "The Guy Who" Movies. This set of 12 ultra-short films is hilarious and harkens back to the Mack Sennet and Hal Roach comedies of yore.
In these films the Dramatic Fool plays a creative, if somewhat dim, soul who takes unusual approaches to everyday problems. The premises are simple, but in Drew's hands a faulty water can or a severe case of insomnia becomes comic fodder. Like the old silent shorts, things just start to happen when Drew is on camera, and the results are always humourous.
The strength of these films is their length. Being only a minute long, the whole film is funny. There isn't a lot of time spent with set-ups or transitions. In The Guy Who Juggled for example, Drew uses jump cuts very effectively to distill the movement down to just the funny bits. The title sets up the joke and also serve as the entire plot. This cuts out the need to establish a setting and motivation, just leaving the funny stuff in.
A modern day auteur of silent slapstick, Drew wrote, directed, and stars in all of these shorts. He has a very good sense for comedy. The jokes a timed well and reduced to their essence with no wasted time or movements. Drew has discovered that there is a lot of humor in the unexpected, and he uses that to good effect, making sure that his gags are not predictable.
I watched this disc with my two sons, aged 8 and 12, and all three of us were laughing up a storm. While a couple didn't hit the funny bone as hard as the rest, all of these were enjoyable, and the best ones had us gasping for breath. The disc starts out strong with The Guy Who Needed Exercise, and then moves on to the hilarious The Guy Who Hunted a Banana. I almost didn't get past this one since my children kept requesting that I play it again. The disc ends on a high note too with The Guy Whose Coat Was Too Big. The only complaint that I have is that there isn't more.
You can see a sample of Drew's work here.
This disc contains 12 shorts that run about a minute each in length. There are also 19 minutes of bonus material. This disc is actually a DVD-R, and some players do not support that format. I plugged the disc into two players and my DVD-ROM drive and had no problem playing it at all.
The two channel audio was generic music that fit the subject matter reasonably well. It was clean and clear, without dropouts or hiss.
The sepia toned full frame image is reminiscent of old silent movie shorts, and fits Drew's style of comedy perfectly. These were apparently filmed digitally, and there are several digital artifacts that are often associated with the format. Aliasing is a problem with all of diagonal lines having a stair step effect. Fine lines tend to wobble and because of these the image doesn't appear as sharp as it should. This doesn't distract from the humor though
There are a good number of extras on this disc, totally 19 minutes in all, more than the main shorts themselves. There is an extended version of The Guy Who Half Baked, and a new three minute short: The Guy Who Made Movies. Also included with this disc is Drew's first movie, The Guy Who Lived on a Chair (9 minutes,) an advertising movie for Volcanoball (a product I never heard of but it still had some good moments in it) and two excerpts from Drew's one man show Help! Help! I Know This Title is Long But Somebody's Trying to Kill Me! As much as I enjoyed the "Guy Who" shorts, these excerpts were my favorite bits on the disc. The premise is that someone has murdered all of the players in a vaudeville show with the exception of Drew. Being familiar with the adage "The show must go on." Drew decides to preform all the acts in the show. The first excerpt has Drew taking the place of a juggler who has to spin several things to music, and nothing goes right. The next has him putting on a puppet show with unexpected results. A fun filled set of extras.
Though this DVD-R is very short, clocking in at around half an hour
including the extras, there are more laughs than some feature length comedies
that I've seen. A great disc for young and old alike, Drew the Dramatic
Fool is a great comedian. It's too bad that there aren't more films
like this being made. A very high Recommendation.