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Featured DVD Review: Lewis Black: Stark Raving Black

June 11th, 2010

Lewis Black: Stark Raving Black - Buy from Amazon

I've been reviewing DVDs for a few years now, and the hardest ones to review are still stand-up concert DVDs. How to you give enough information so that people will know if the DVD is worth checking out without simply spoiling all of the jokes? Additionally, there are few things in life I find more painful than watching bad stand-up comedy. At least with Lewis Black: Stark Raving Black, I won't have to worry about it being bad stand-up.

Lewis Black is arguably best known for doing his Back in Black segments on The Daily Show. For most people, he's known as that angry guy who yells about politics for a few minutes. And there's certainly a lot of that here. He yells about the fallacy of the two party system. He yells about the economic meltdown and its root cause and how no one in charge seemed to see it coming. The seemingly hopeless quest for alternative energy. And more.

However, this set also has a lot of personal stories. Stories about his time on the USO Tour and how he had to follow Vince Gill's performance. Stories about getting old. Stories about his parents.

I've seen Lewis Black's previous two DVDs. In fact, I own them. As a point of comparison, I would say this is his most personal work and he spends as much time talking about aging and his family as he does ranting about politics or stupidity. Fortunately, he is equally witty in both areas. Granted, he built his reputation on his rants, but talking about doing a gig at a honeymoon resort and having his parents there with him is priceless. And lest you think he's going soft in his old age, he has plenty of venom to share with politicians on both sides of the aisle, the banking industry, and everyone else whose stupidity annoys him. Amazingly, with both extremes he's equally funny. There's not a single joke that doesn't elicit laughter, while his wit is as sharp as ever.

In short, Lewis Black remains as profound as he is profane.

There is only one extra on the DVD: a documentary on Lewis Black. When I saw this on the back of the DVD case, I assumed it would be a ten-minute look at the making of this particular special. However, that is not the case. It's a 70-minute documentary on his career, how he works on his material, traveling on the road, etc. But it's also on his family, his education, his early life, etc. This is awesome. Usually stand-up comedy DVDs have nothing or next to nothing.

On a side note, there are subtitles on the comedy set, which is nice because I find many similar DVDs do not have subtitles. However, there are no subtitles for the documentary. Strange.

The Verdict

If you are a fan of Lewis Black, buy Stark Raving Black. Buy it now. The set is excellent and the extras are phenomenal compared to most other stand-up concert DVDs. Even if you haven't seen much of his work and only know him as that crazy guy from The Daily Show, this DVD is easily worth the money.

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