If you ever meet Gabriel Iglesias in person and he insists on introducing you to one of his incredibly funny friends, do a quick check to see if his shorts (the man hates pants) are engulfed in flames. I'm just saying that there is a really good chance that HE IS LYING. His Comedy Central series Stand-Up Revolution does indeed feature a number of stand-up comedians but hardly qualifies as a revolution. For that, they would have to actually generate laughs.
Gabriel plays the role of ringleader as he brings 18 comics to the stage (over the course of 7 episodes) in a bid to tickle our funny bone. The format of every episode remains the same with Gabriel receiving an entirely unnecessary introduction by 'host' / sidekick / hype-man Martin Moreno. Gabriel and Martin banter for a couple of minutes and by that I mean to say Gabriel cracks a couple of silly jokes while Martin cackles away in the corner (he has all the annoying qualities of a Paul Schaffer without being burdened by any of the ancillary talent). Then, Gabriel launches into a few minutes of his own stand-up act, unfortunately providing an early high-point to many of the episodes. Then we begin the slow decline as he introduces comic after comic (usually 3 per episode) who in turn let all the air out of the room.
Perhaps this says something of my sheltered existence but I hadn't heard of any of the comics other than Maz Jobrani who made me laugh in the past as part of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour and with his turn on Better Off Ted. Of course, I'm a fan of Iglesias which is why I elected to view this release in the first place. I approached it with an open mind and sadly was not rewarded. I'm pretty sure it all goes back to my strong resistance to racial humor. For the most part, I just don't find it funny. Can you guess what every episode offers in abundance? Yup, exactly. The sheer volume of it is depressing. Mexican jokes, Black jokes, White jokes, Brown jokes...you name it, we got it. At one point in Larry Omaha's set I was impressed by the far-reaching scope of racial observations when he said that Eskimos were freeze-dried Navajos. Then I went back to being depressed.
When the comics aren't busy flogging racial stereotypes, we get the usual mix of fat jokes, sex jokes, fart jokes, pot jokes and even a couple of belated gags about Michael Jackson (you never have to find new comedic targets if you're willing to exhume the dead ones). Lest I forget, there is also a thinly veiled undercurrent of misogyny that often manifests itself in stories about just how crazy women really are. It's a good thing only 2 of the 18 comics are women otherwise we'd have to put up with something resembling a fair fight (and we can't have that). I guess it is fitting revenge that the funniest set here comes from one of the ladies. Cristela Alonzo is fresh, self-deprecating and generally goofy in a completely endearing way. Thea Vidale isn't too far behind although her material has a blunt, borderline-abrasive quality to it.
Of the guys, Paul Varghese scores points with me by displaying his acerbic wit in a relaxed fashion. Jobrani also comes though as the big closer of the penultimate episode. His material may not be the freshest but practice makes perfect and the man definitely has a polished act. The rest of the comics don't fare as well. A few (like Dillon Garcia and Zhivago Blea) draw chuckles but there are no big laughs to be found as the sameness of repetitive clichés and crowd pandering overloads the senses. Not helping matters is the stinker of a final episode. It differs in format since it offers Gabriel and Martin showcasing racy bits that were deemed too much for primetime. Thea Vidale loses some of her funny when she goes blue and Joey Coco Diaz sweats his way through a vulgar set that props up a couple of decent gags before collapsing into an incomprehensible mess.
By now you must be wondering just how much of Gabriel Iglesias this show really gives us. The answer is: not a lot. His opening segments are often funnier than the main acts but they still don't show him firing on all cylinders. His primary role as executive producer is to be the big name that draws the crowds in and he knows it. Although I was aware of the show's format before I watched it, the anemic presence of Iglesias coupled with the disappointment that follows leaves me feeling like this is a bait and switch.
It is also worth noting here that all the episodes are presented in an extended format with a number of them running close to 45 minutes. This includes all the additional material that didn't make it to the regular Comedy Central broadcast but has been seamlessly integrated into the DVD viewing experience.