“I would rather scratch my eye out with a fork…”
Lewis Black (Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated), stand-up comedy’s King of the Rant, has been performing for over a quarter century. During that time he’s become known for his political tirades. Lewis Black: Old Yeller is a taped performance from a 2013 Atlantic City show. There’s a bit more story-telling than the typical apoplectic fit Black is known for, and it works to his benefit. His moments of fury are more punctuated and thus deliver more of an impact than if he were to rage throughout the entire performance.
The highlight of the routine is undoubtedly the extended outburst against Facebook, as it’s one of the more accessible topics no matter which way you lean politically or which demographic you fall into. Other topics covered include: Black’s generation and his personal disappointments, social security, health care, ADD, cable, the internet, and of course political parties.
Lewis Black may be considered a mainstream comedian but he’s still quite polarizing, as fans are die-hard while detractors are equally so. I’m a fan, so Lewis Black: Old Yeller earns a recommendation.
However just because I’m a fan doesn’t mean I cannot find fault with Lewis Black: Old Yeller and indeed the technical specs are lacking. In fact, the entire 1.78:1 transfer suffers from some unfortunate problems. There is more dynamic camera work than I can recall seeing during a stand-up special, and that’s not a good thing. I don’t want to watch a zoom in progress or the camera shake from a long angle lens. Part of the biggest issue is the suit Black is wearing, believe it or not. The stripes do not translate well, creating a bizarre effect which can only be described as akin to looking at a Magic Eye picture. The way the stripes move is immensely distracting, made all the worse by the fact it’s not a distortion present from every camera angle. Thus, depending on the shots chosen, it’s either completely gone or completely in your face.
I will find it hard to watch this special again and will resort to simply having the audio on in the background to experience the routine over. Speaking of audio, the track is a nice Dolby Digital 5.1, with the applause and other audience sounds thankfully relegated to a more background level. This allows Black’s vitriol to spew forth without distortion, though the entire track fails to fill the sound space entirely. This likely will not cause concern.
There are no special features, which is a disappointment.
Fans of Black will find Lewis Black: Old Yeller a no-brainer. Though there’s more storytelling than fits of rage, there’s still more than enough bite here to satisfy.