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DVD Review: Lewis Black's Root of All Evil Uncensored

Lewis Black finally got his very own television show, and I can think of no better place for it than on Comedy Central. The format of the show is set up like a fake trial, whereby two "lawyers" square off against each other in an attempt to convince judge Lewis Black that their topic is the root of all evil, and not the other person's topic. The so-called lawyers are actually just comedians, such as Patton Oswalt, Greg Giraldo, Andy Daily, and Kathleen Madigan, and each side of the fence only gets one, so it's not like they get to collaborate on their case with a team or anything... though now that I think of it, that might be interesting to see.

Anyway, these lawyers tackle various topics, which can be just about anything. Rather than give a few examples, I'll just list all the topics that go up against each other on this DVD:

  • Weed vs. Beer
  • YouTube vs. Porn
  • Oprah vs. The Catholic Church
  • Paris Hilton vs. Dick Cheney
  • Kim Jong-Il vs. Tila Tequila
  • Donald Trump vs. Viagra
  • American Idol vs. High School
  • Las Vegas vs. The Human Body

The format of the mock trial follows the same layout from show to show. First Lewis Black starts out by introducing which two topics will be facing each other, then gives a brief and comedic history lesson about each of the two topics, and finally introduces the two comics who will be debating. Each comic then gives his or her opening statement, which is followed by each comic presenting their case for why their topic is the root of all evil. These will often contains short, pre-made video segments (which are shown on a large monitor up on the wall for the in-house audience). After each lawyer has had their turn, it comes time for Lewis Black's Inquisition, where he goes back and for between the two asking various questions.

Oddly enough, up until this point Lewis Black has very little to do in the show. Besides the intro, he'll do one-liners when coming back from commercial, but that's about it. So now we get to see him baiting the comics to hopefully allow them to come up with funny responses. But that's still the comedians being funny, not Black. And after this relatively short segment of the show, he has the two present their Ripple of Evil", where each comic is supposed to tell us what will happen in the future if the evil they represent is not stopped, so again we're back to the comics. And typically, this is the least funny part of the show. Often, the future that they paint is one that's completely absurd and makes no sense whatsoever.

Nearing the end, we next come to the comics closing statements, which is very similar to the opening statement portion. And finally we get to hear from the man himself, Lewis Black, as he weighs the arguments and reaches a verdict... except that it really doesn't seem like he weighs the arguments at all. It appears to me, and my wife agreed with me on this, that he already knows before the show begins which side he is going to take. And since this is a comedy show and not a real trial, I think it's very plausible that this is the case. But couldn't it be made to at least seem like the arguments mattered?

How funny the show is usually depends less on what the two topics are and more on the comedians presenting the arguments. My favorites are Patton Oswalt and Kathleen Madigan. They always seem to put together funny stuff. So yeah, there are some laughs here, but really the show is just a time filler. It's great to have on while your working on something else, as there is little which actually needs to be watched visually. Except for perhaps the short pre-taped video segments, all the jokes will come across whether you have your eyes on the screen or not.

The first DVD release of this show contains some nice bonus features, such as post-show interviews with the comics and a behind-the-scenes featurette. Then there's also a little segment where Lewis Black gives tips for the "courtroom". So it's a decent show that received a nicely done DVD release. If you haven't seen the show before, I'd say rent it.

Lewis Black's Root of All Evil Uncensored, released by Comedy Central, is available starting September 30, 2008.

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