Every time you think that they've covered all of the basics for Reality TV a show comes along to change your perception. We've all seen Survivor, The Apprentice, and The Amazing Race, but how many of us sat down to watch Last Comic Standing? Well, judging from the fact that the show was cancelled during its third season, I'm going to assume the answer is "not many".
Due to low ratings NBC pulled the plug on Last Comic Standing and the last season was never made fully broadcast. If you followed the show and knew the contestants on it, then you probably remember ANT from all three seasons. He never won the prize, but he performed a great stand-up routine that was both funny and fresh. His new DVD America's Ready is no different and it gives a good look at his brand of humor. Let's just say that his approach to comedy is interesting.
For those of you who are familiar with ANT already, you'll remember him as the flamboyant comic with a funny haircut and slightly manic personality. He even refers to himself during this performance as being "so gay I could put a lisp in the word cracker". His mannerisms and topics of conversation certainly put the frosting on that cake as most of the material he plays off of here revolves around him being gay. From his humble beginnings as a flight attendant to outing himself to his family, ANT covers a wide range of topics.
In that regard he stays more on course than Alonzo Bodden did with his Tall, Dark, and Funny release. Bodden covered a wide range of topics from politics and religion to racism and the weather, but ANT keeps going with the gay shtick. It leaves room for a lot of funny jokes but it tends to get a little boring after a while because the pacing just never changes. It's good that he has a theme that he works from, but shaking things up a bit could have gone a long way to making this show even better. He does spend a fair amount of time talking about alcoholism and drug use, but he always goes back to the whole being gay thing.
In contrast to Bodden, I have to say that ANT really knows how to work the crowd and that seems to be his strong suit. He's not afraid to interact with them and get them involved in the joke at all. He'll often call upon someone in the audience to make an example of them in the process which often leads to hilarious results. I always like seeing a comic do this since it adds to their stage presence and personality more than their material does. There is just a sense of improvisation about it that creates an energy you can't get by just going on stage and belting out your rehearsed jokes.
Overall ANT does a pretty good stand-up skit, but America's Ready just didn't hit it out of the park for me. I did get a few laughs out of the show though not nearly as many as I did from Bodden's Tall, Dark, and Funny. ANT is good at what he does and how he covers his material, but for me I just found his routine to be a little too dry. As I said though, he does a good job working the crowd and that seems to be his saving grace.
ANT: America's Ready is presented on DVD with a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The image quality is very good with no real compression artifacts to speak of and an all around clean presentation. The video could have been a little sharper but for the most part there is nothing to complain about aside from some occasional softness. Colors and lighting appeared natural with a good amount of contrast.
The DVD is presented with two English language track selections. There is Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 channel mixes to choose from, though the obvious choice here is the former option. The quality is fair with a decent amount of directionality to the audio but I found that the rear channels weren't as involved as they could have been. The DVD sounds decent enough with no real technical annoyances to be found in the presentation. Also just like Tall, Dark, and Funny this disc doesn't offer any option for subtitles.
The only bonus material on this DVD is a small collection of deleted scenes from ANT's show. There is more here than was found on Bodden's DVD and all together there is less than five minutes worth of material. Most of the content in this section is pretty good and it works well as an addition to the feature. I can't help but shake the feeling that the disc just needed more of a personal touch. I thought the same thing about Bodden's release, because just seeing the gents get on stage and do their thing doesn't help us get to know them.
I have to admit that when Last Comic Standing was on the air I only saw bits and pieces of the show. I caught ANT on occasion but nowhere near enough to form a concrete opinion on the guy. I thought he was humorous for sure though just not funny enough to win the contest. Seeing him after the fact and watching him spread his wings sheds some light on his talent.
America's Ready was a good introduction to who he is, but as far as a stand-up act is concerned I didn't think it was a "winner". I did laugh a few times and appreciated how he involved the audience though felt that his material just wasn't fresh or all that funny enough. In the end I'm going to suggest a rental for this one if you're a viewer that loves stand-up routines.