Norm Macdonald is an acquired taste
Part of what makes him such a love-him or hate-him comic is his style which is exceedingly dry and overwhelmingly blunt, while almost daring you to laugh. He'll tell a joke that fails miserably and just let it hang there, as if more time will help the crowd "get it," or he'll expand a joke by making it into a self-pleasing tale, without an attempt to even be humorous. It almost creates a sense of disbelief about what you're watching, which enhances the actual laughs, of which there are quite a few. When Macdonald gets rolling, which is normally when he's getting pretty dark, he takes on that disbelief himself, approaching the world with a view that things around him just don't make a lot of sense. His bit about the unrealistic demands on the designated driver is just one example of how he draws laughs out of common-sense observations.
If you're not squarely in Macdonald's corner, this material is likely to offend. His point of view can be pretty grim and he unapologetically takes on topics that others might not touch, like how cancer sufferers "courageously battle" the disease or how alcoholism is the best disease to have. But he makes these ideas funny by pointing out the inherent ridiculousness of how people approach them, like comparing the symptoms of bowel cancer and alcoholism or pointing out the problems with the idea of an anonymous support group. One minute he'll be doing a bit about a fatal, alcohol-fueled assault on a newborn, and then he's talking about becoming fascinated with the missing women TV news reports on. There will be no Hot Pockets jokes here.
This being Macdonald's first stand-up special, he does pull out some of his better older material and his familiar topics. This includes his bit about why gay pride is an odd concept, which is still as hilarious as it is inappropriate. It's a bit more stretched-out than it has been in the past, as he likely realizes his audience knows the punchline, and so he delays its arrival in an attempt to draw more laughs. And if you want to hear more from Macdonald about one of his most memorable targets, you get a finale about OJ Simpson. In a way, thanks to Macdonald's polarizing act, this show is really one big inside joke, aimed directly at the people who enjoy Dirty Work and often say "Germans love David Hasselhoff." But even they'll not laugh out loud. He's just not that kind of comic.
The audio is delivered via a Dolby Digital 2.0 track, which is a very straightforward, right-down-the-middle presentation that doesn't offer anything in terms of dynamic mixing, but it's also free of distortion as well. An in-the-room surround mix would have been nice.
Up next is an animated take on Macdonald's Twelve Days of Christmas bit from his Ridiculous album. Again, this is the kind of comedy that is pure Macdonald, as he awkwardly complains about the gifts he's receiving from his "true love," aided by minimalistic animation that works well. The last bit makes the extras three-for-three in illustrating just what makes Norm Norm, as the clip from Comedy Central's roast of Bob Saget is almost painful to watch, as Macdonald unreels a set of anti-roast jokes more fitting to an elementary-school playground. The end result is funny, but it just keeps going and going, stretching the idea of unfunny being funny way too far.
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