There's nothing I like more than a good stand-up comedy performance, but when you've watched so many of them, you tend to want something new, something different. There's so many topics that have just been played out over the years - how women are different from men or how blank is different than blank in general. The best stand-ups get into the absurdity of the little things of everyday life and combine insightful, sharp material with their own unique delivery (Lewis Black, for example.)
"Live From the Laugh Factory Vol. 1" is the first (obviously, given the Vol. 1) entry in a series offering up-and-coming stand-ups. Filmed in hi-def, each of the four comics (Freddy Soto, Butch Bradley, Ruben Paul and Bob Marley) get about twenty minutes each. Soto (who sadly passed away in 2005) opens the program and provides a mostly funny set chatting about his upbringing and offering some racial humor.
Marley is next and the comedian is the highlight of the show. With a voice that sounds sort of like Jim Carrey's imitation of Jimmy Stewart, Marley launches into a hilarious bit about how married life has turned him mentially handicapped and unable to make his own decisions. Marley fits in a wealth of topics throughout his set, including the problems inherent in in-vehicle DVD players, ducks in the bathroom, the dangers of walking around Home Depot and how catalogs bring evil into the household.
Ruben Paul is next, and offers up a set talking about the differences between races and his thoughts on women and hip-hop. A lot of the material feels familiar, but Paul livens it up with an easygoing, entertaining delivery. The program ends with Butch Bradley, who aggressively delivers an uneven (but occasionally quite funny) set revolving around security, airline travel, the dangers of bunk beds and sudden spider attacks.
VIDEO: The performances were taped in hi-def video and are presented here in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The result isn't dazzling - this is still just stand-up, after all - but picture quality is still rock-solid, as sharpness and detail remain terrific throughout.
The picture did show some slight shimmering, but was otherwise free of any faults, as no pixelation, edge enhancement or flaws with the source elements were seen. Colors looked bright and nicely saturated, with no smearing or other problems.
SOUND: The stereo soundtrack offered crisp dialogue.
Final Thoughts: There are some moments that seem "been there, heard that" or just fall rather flat, but Marley's performance is terrific and the others are at least mostly amusing and have a few solid laughs. The DVD doesn't offer any supplements, but audio/video quality is good. Recommended for stand-up fans seeking out a sampling of a few different comics.