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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Complete Denis Leary
Complete Denis Leary
Universal // Unrated // November 2, 2004
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted October 31, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
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The Shows:

Denis Leary first gained notoriety as a fast talking, chain smoking, angry comic in a series of 30 second shorts that MTV would play between videos.  (This was way back when MTV actually played music videos of course.)  Over the years he honed his skills as a comic (as well as an actor) and has produced two stand-up specials, one for Showtime and another for HBO.  Now the pair of these hour long performances, as well as a few other nice tidbits are available in one package: The Complete Denis Leary.  Both of these shows are very funny and will thrill fans of his fast paced comedy.

No Cure for Cancer:

In 1990 Denis and his five month pregnant wife traveled to England for some performances that he had booked there.  Unfortunately, her water broke and she gave birth prematurely to their son.  At birth, he weighed a little over two pounds, and was in the hospital for quite a while.  Effectively stranded in a foreign country with no means of support, Denis took the time he found he had to write a one-man-play/stand-up routine No Cure for Cancer.  It started slowly but gained popularity as time went by and he eventually took the piece to New York where it also did very well.  In 1992 Showtime taped the show for broadcast.

The show prepares viewers for what the evening is going to be like by opening with his song Asshole.    This tribute to doing whatever the hell you want, and making fun of suburban America at the same time is both funny and lyrical.  He then launches into his stand-up, ranting and railing about many topics including drugs: "Yeah, I'd like to do some cocaine. I'd like to do a drug that makes my penis small, makes my nose bleed, makes my heart explode, and sucks all my money out of the bank."

Smoking: "It doesn't matter how big the warnings on the cigarettes are; you could have a black pack, with a skull and crossbones on the front, called TUMORS, and smokers would be around the block going, 'I can't wait to get my hands on these fucking things! I bet ya get a tumor as soon as you light up!'"

Vegetarianism: "Not eating meat is a decision. Eating meat is an instinct!"

and music: "We live in a country where John Lennon takes six bullets in the chest, Yoko Ono was standing right next to him, not ONE FUCKING BULLET! Explain that to me!"

He calms down a little in the second half and tells some great stories about how tough and rugged his father was as well as what happened when he as his brother played William Tell when they were kids.  This was my favorite section of the show.

He finishes the show off with some more rants and another song, which doesn't work as well as Asshole but is still fairly amusing.

This show has aged a little, and it's not as edgy as it was 10 years ago.  Some of his bits look a little stupid today, such as when he is prancing around the stage in circles making fun of the pronunciation of the word "croissant."  Overall the show holds up very well, and Leary's rapid fire rants and 'take no prisoners' attitude give these stand-up routines quite a kick.

Lock 'N Load:

Leary's other TV special, broadcast on HBO, wasn't filmed until five years later in 1997.  In this one he turns his eye to more mainstream cultural trends, and it works well.  He covers such topics as Michael Flatley: "Lord of the Dance? Who has the balls to call himself the Lord of anything? Last guy called himself Lord on this planet was crucified, Michael, okay? And we know where the hammer and the nails are."
Child rearing: " I try to bring them up the right way, not spanking them. I find that I don't have to spank them. I find that waving the gun around pretty much gets the same job done!"

And flavored coffee: "Is it impossible to get a cup of coffee-flavored coffee? You can get every other flavor except coffee-flavored coffee! They got mochachino, cappuchino, frappachino, Al Pacino, what the fuck?"

While this more recent special is more sedate than No Cure for Cancer, it still has a good amount of invective to it and I preferred it to his first show.  The rant he gives at the end about the Catholic Church, and the new religion he wants to start is worth the price of admission.  The bit about his daughter being outside drawing is also priceless.  A very funny show.

The DVD:

These two specials come on a single sided DVD.  I was disappointed to find that there are no chapter stops in the shows themselves.


Both shows come with a stereo soundtrack that does the job.  Since these are spoken monologues, there isn't much need for a lot of dynamic range.  Leary's dialog comes through clearly, though there are a couple of spots where it sounds a little muddled.  Not a great sounding disc, but appropriate for the material.


The full frame video hasn't aged too well.  In No Cure for Cancer, the image was pretty soft and looked a little blurry.  The colors were also off slightly.  Denis' face looked a little pale and yellow, which could have been partially due to the lighting.

Lock 'N Load looked a little better, with the image being sharper and the colors looking more accurate.  There were some spots and dirt though, and surprisingly a couple of video dropouts.  Given that this is a stand-up routine, it isn't a big deal, but I was hoping that these shows would look better.


This DVD comes with some great supplementary material.  First off is The Making of No Cure for Cancer.  This has interviews with Leary and his co-writers, as well as some home movies and tapes of the early performances of this show.  They talk about some of the problems they encountered and how the adverse English press actually helped the show.  A good featurette.

There are also two music videos that Denis did:  Asshole and Love Barge.  While the first one is great and really compliments the two concerts on the disc, Love Barge was actually pretty bad.  Only completists need view it.

Final Thoughts:

Denis Leary is one funny comedian, and this DVD has some of his best bits. Leary's fast paced rants and chain smoking persona make for some hard hitting comedy.   A very nice package with both of his cable specials and two music videos as well as a making of documentary, this DVD is a must by for his fans.  Highly Recommended.  Now lets hope that Leary's aborted TV series, The Job, gets released on DVD soon!

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