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DVD Review: John Oliver: Terrifying Times


John Oliver is by far my favorite Daily Show correspondent. His bits almost always turn out hilarious, which is why I was excited to hear he finally made a one hour stand up special. And although it was indeed funny, it didn't blow me away. Perhaps my expectations were set just a little too high... or perhaps I wasn't quite in the right mood for watching stand-up... so I when I saw that John Oliver: Terrifying Times was out on DVD, extended and uncensored no less, I decided to give it another shot. And I'm glad I did. I still wasn't blown away, but I really enjoyed watching it again. Even if I didn't constantly laugh, his talks and observations were both funny and entertaining, which kept me fully interested all the way through. And this was my SECOND viewing.

The first thing you'll notice when popping in the DVD, aside from the previews, is John Oliver. Before the menu even appears, John appears and starts thanking you for buying, renting or stealing the DVD as the menu forms around his head. And from there, he just keep talking and talking, about this and that and whatever else pops in his head, and funny thing is, I had to keep listening. I had to find out where he was going, and couldn't help but laugh when he started thinking that you might be dead on the couch because it had been so long and you still hadn't chosen a menu selection. Nice thing is, once we do finally reach the end of his menu ramblings, it doesn't loop. The special just gets kicked off. I wish more DVDs would do that, as listening to looping DVD menu music can get really annoying sometimes.

Though most of John's act tends to be more political in nature, he opens with a little British humor, which is really what I had originally expected to hear all throughout his special. Since his Daily Show bits are pretty much all political in nature, I thought he might try to stay away from that area, but he didn't, and I'm glad, because he does them so well. Yeah, jokes about how stupid President Bush is have been done to death, and yet John Oliver can still pull them off. That's talent! Now, this is not to say that everything he talked about was political. He also talks about modern society, such as consumerism and the ridiculousness of an inflatable barbecue, and then rock ballads and embarrassing childhood memories.

Behind John is a giant projection screen which enables him to have a non-static background, meaning he can do some visual jokes. It's not used constantly, just occasionally, when needed, and when it's not being used for jokes some generic displays are put up, usually relating in someway to whatever he is discussing at the time. And then at a couple of points, John brings out a friend, Professor Andy, to discuss some issues with. This guy is dressed as a professor with silly hair and sitting behind a desk that is rolled out on stage... you don't see that on every stand up special.

So yeah, this is a good special. I don't know if I'd actually need to own it, but it was definitely worth renting, even after seeing it on Comedy Central. And the DVD has some good extras, as well. There are some of his appearances on The Daily Show, and interview with John conducted by his friend, Andy (the "professor" from the special), and then another stand-up routine from John filmed for a radio show called Political Animal.

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