The big man brings the funny
This special, shot as part of the New York Comedy Festival, is classic O'Neal, as he talks about the way white women are valued over black women by society, his view of how men should handle themselves in a relationship with a woman and sex in general. It's nothing you haven't heard before, especially if you've heard him with Opie and Anthony, but he makes it all fresh thanks to his performing ability. He gets loud, he gets silly, he uses voices, he gets into his jokes. His joke about never learning to spell restaurant is funny on its own, but when he plays the part of himself and his tormentor, it becomes hysterical. That goes double when he talks about how women can get sex when they want it, delivering the punchline with a simple, yet effective grunt, which is followed by a line that made me laugh out loud.
It's hard to pull out a handful of highlight bits from a set so strong, but there's something amusing about when O'Neal shows some vulnerability, like when he talks about his love of dogs (complete with a ridiculous parody of those depressing Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercials) or his awful health, which includes the most disturbing, yet funny description of a diabetes symptom I've ever heard. Bobbing and weaving through his jokes, coming back to the inherent comedy in modern relationships again and again, he walks a fine line between enlightenment and misogyny, with an incredible bit about the need for a sexual harassment holiday, a fantastic analogy between aging women and Cracker Jacks and a wrap-up that expresses consolations toward the fairer sex for all they suffer through. If you can put up with a bit of saucy language, any adult should be able to enjoy his comedy.
Part of what makes this special so much fun is the way he interacts with the audience, a group that certainly enjoys his comedy, yet seems a bit scared of what he'll say next. After all, he starts the show by thanking the audience coordinator for positioning a well-endowed woman in the front row, before enthusiastically praising a black fan's white companion and then inquiring how one audience member would kill his girlfriend. This could come off a bit harsh in the wrong hands, but O'Neal is so matter-of-fact and joyful about how he talks to the crowd, tying them into his act seamlessly. The results make the audience at home feel more a part of the proceedings and make for a more enjoyable show.
Disappointingly, this disc only sports a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, which is solid, but it lacks the enveloping mix that the better stand-up DVDs feature. There's nothing wrong with the center-balanced, front-speaker sound here, but it certainly could be better.
Also cut from the special, expectedly, is an eight-minute performance by warm-up act Harris Stanton, who, based on this short set, may be as funny as O'Neal. Very self-deprecating, he talks about his less than impressive professional background, including his experience as a security guard and a professional baseball player, earning some legitimate laughs.
The last extra is O'Neal's Comedy Central Presents episode from 2003, running 21 minutes. It's great to get these earlier performances on Comedy Central DVDs, as you get to see how O'Neal's changed as a comic in the past seven years, even if he was excellent back then as well, and touched on many of the same subjects. He was more topical though here, talking about Michael Jackson and the D.C. sniper.
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