Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Laughs from the Past-An All Star Toast to The Improv


This is one of the rare times I will review something you more than likely have no chance of tracking down for a reasonable price and even if you do, you had better have a VCR handy.  At the height of the 80’s stand-up comedy boom, one of the big players was a show called A&E’s An Evening at the Improv.  Filmed at one of the legendary Improvisation comedy clubs, it opened up doors for many, many comics.  In 1988, HBO put on a tribute to the club featuring six of the best (or at the very least most well known) comics of the day:  Robert Klein, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Martin Mull, Paul Rodriguez and Richard Lewis.

Robert Klein hosts the festivities which come off as one part roast and one part show within a show as the comics heckle the living daylights out of each other during most of the special.

Things start off nicely with a good, though typical set from Richard Lewis doing his usual “most neurotic man in the world” shtick.  At least I think its shtick; I hope it is at any rate!

The set is enhanced by Crystal and Williams who add in little bits of their own.  It’s a really funny running gag for the most part; one that I would imagine was helped along by booze.  Seriously, there is no way these guys didn’t have a few drinks before going on stage going by what we see.

Billy Crystal is up next  and thankfully he refrains from his tendency to lapse into sentimental schmaltz, making for a very funny set.  Next up is the real highlight of the show for me, a rather disastrous set from Paul Rodriguez.  While everyone else has a pretty good night
Paul's timing is off the the audience doesn't seem to really be into him on this particular night.

Happily, he has five buddies on hand who are more than willing to heckle him in an attempt to salvage his set.  Watching a guy bomb is generally not fun in the least, but here it ends up being even funnier than if he had done well.

Mull is up next and he has a wonderfully dry speech in which he roasts everyone on the stage and engages in some really funny back and forth with Williams.  The show ends with a typical late 80's Robin Williams routine that is enhanced (I would guess) by however much booze the man had in him at the time.

This is a really great rarity that I grabbed from a Wherehouse (remember that place, kids?) for five bucks about ten years ago.  If you can track it down, grab it.  It's worth it.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.