Joe Rogan: Talking Monkeys in Space
Comedy Central // Unrated // $14.98 // March 30, 2010
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted March 23, 2010
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In 10 Words or Less
The return of the pot-head philosopher

Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: NewsRadio, stand-up comedy
Likes: Joe Rogan
Dislikes: Frat boys, UFC
Hates: Fear Factor

The Show
When you watch a Joe Rogan special, you know you're going to hear about one thing at least, and that's marijuana. Of course, you get plenty of that here, as he talks about his drug of choice (among others), especially in regard to its legal status, joking about anti-pot commercials and weed's positive effects. I'm not pro-drugs in any way (and have always been drug-free) but it's damn funny hearing him talk about mountain climbing and pot.

While pot is well-represented as usual, here he has a few other interests, and those are sex and his new status as a father to a baby girl. Being a dad opens a whole new world for him to share his thoughts on, and his imitation of his daughter feeding, and the subsequent comparison to the lack of enjoyment adults get from eating, are hilarious, as are his thoughts on just how he became a dad. No one needs to be concerned that fatherhood has softened him though, as his ruminations on getting caught masturbating and the dangers of auto-fellatio prove clearly.

One place Rogan is consistently on-point on is his view of religion, a subject he loves to skewer. Here, he tackles the argument over evolution, the hypocrisy of Ted Haggard and the battle over gay marriage, all of which leads to the old favorite of monkeys. While that's great and funny, it's the story the monkeys lead to that is the greatest hit, as he talks about tiger attacks that happened a while back. Partially it's the energy he puts into his imitation of the tiger, but mainly its his description of how the mind reacts to the situation that really sells it.

The one part that doesn't work, on the other hand, is his extended riff on Dr. Phil, which leads into the show's finish. It's not that there aren't laughs to be found, because his portrayal of the TV therapist's audience is hysterical, nor is it his imitation of McGraw, as that's pretty spot-on. It's just that isn't it a tad late to make a Dr. Phil joke, no less an entire segment? Considering this is the only real complaint, the boy's done well.

At the end of his set, and after a brief applause break, a pair of mics are set up for some audience Q&A, which is either a huge mistake or pure genius, depending on how you look at it. Rogan draws a crowd made up mainly of UFC fans and drug enthusiasts, and the folks who line-up represent the best and brightest of both groups. Questions cover who could beat up who, who's dumber than who, what's the best way to get high and what to do if you catch your friend with anal "rublicant." It's a regular Mensa meeting, and Rogan recognizes that, making fun of his fans, while not summarily dismissing them, making it entertaining for those inside the groups and those observing from the outside.

Packed in a standard keepcase, this one-disc release features an animated anamorphic widescreen main menu, with options to watch the show, select chapters, and check out the special feature. There are no audio options, no subtitles and no closed captioning.

The Quality
The anamorphic widescreen transfer looks fine, delivering a crisp, clean image that has no issues with dirt, damage or digital artifacts. Thankfully, in the time that's past between DVDs, the shaky-cam technique was dispatched, so the visuals here, though a touch overdependent on just two angles, are much more pleasing.

After getting an immersive Dolby Digital 5.1 track on his last DVD, this release is just Dolby Digital 2.0. There's nothing wrong with the presentation, as his voice comes across clear and without distortion, but it's a simple, center-balanced track with nothing dynamic to offer.

The Extras
Up first is a behind-the-scenes featurette, which runs just under eight minutes long. The focus is on Rogan and his pals, and what they do when they aren't doing a show. While seeing Rogan in his downtime is interesting, the prep for his shows is the more entertaining story.

That's what you get in "Talking Monkeys in Columbus" (8:46) which follows Rogan on his trip to Columbus, starting at the airport in Los Angeles, through his introduction on-stage and everything in-between, including press stops, a warm-up gig and an extended story from the plane involving Rogan's pal Joey Diaz. From these two extras, it's entirely obvious that Rogan is as funny off-stage as he in on.

The Bottom Line
Having enjoyed Rogan's previous DVD, I looked forward to another dose of his common-sense stand-up philosophy. This time around, he's a touch more base than in the past, but is even funnier, and his observations on life are still as incisive. The DVD looks and sounds fine for a stand-up disc, and the extras are interesting, though a touch short. Definitely give it a look if you're a fan of comics with a genuine perspective.

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