Lewis Black, the popular American stand-up comedian known for his angry rants, taking on politics and and religion and seen on Comedy Central's "The Root of All Evil" and on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" for his "Back in Black" commentary segment.
Earning his Masters in Fine Arts at the Yale School of Drama, Lewis Black is well-known for his intelligent take on politics and the absurdities of life, compared to comedic greats such as George Carlin and Lenny Bruce, Lewis Black is well-respected in the industry and having had his fair share of Comedy Central specials, Black returns with "Stark Raving Black", a comedy film shot at the Fillmore Detroit in Detroit, Michigan on August 2009. The DVD also features a 70-minute documentary titled "BASIC BLACK: The Lewis Black Story" on his life and career and most importantly how he became one of the most successful comedians in America.
Here is a chapter listing of what is included in "Stark Raving Black":
2. Democrats & Republicans
3. Mainstream Comedian
4. Vince Gill, Amy Grant & Me
5. Hitting 60
6. Birth & Death
8. The Economy
10. Alternative Energy
Lewis Black's "Stark Raving Black" was shot in HD and is presented on DVD via Widescreen Format enhanced for 16:9 TV's. This film features a camera focused directly on Lewis Black, a camera behind him, one near the audience and we get closeups of the audience reaction to his jokes. No dizzying cuts, editing was well done as well as lighting. Black is not one of those comedians that does a lot of moving around the stage, so the shots are well-planned and you get a good balance of close-ups, full body shots and audience reactions. Since the original source was in HD, picture quality is very good on DVD and I wouldn't be surprised if "Stark Raving Black" receives a Blu-ray release in the near future.
As for "BASIC BLACK: The Lewis Black Story", the documentary ranges from new footage to really older comedy video clips, so PQ definitely varies for the documentary. But overall, the older scenes are watchable.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
"Lewis Black - Stark Raving Black" is presented in DTS English 5.1 Surround, Dolby Digital English 5.1 Surround and English 2.0 Stereo. This is pretty good as most comedy DVD's are presented in Dolby Digital Stereo. Subtitles are in English SDH.
I was absolutely pleased with the audio and once again, because it was shot in HD, I wouldn't be surprised if the film does receive a Blu-ray release in the future and the audio gets a lossless track. Surrounds are good in bringing out the crowd reactions, center and front channel does a good job in bringing the dialogue out and dialogue is clear and understandable. Rarely do you see comedy performances with a DTS soundtrack, so I thought that was pretty cool to see this audio feature included. And if you have a modern home theater receiver, one may want to try to have stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundscape.
"Lewis Black - Stark Raving Black" comes with the 70-minute documentary "Basic Black: The Lewis Black Story" featuring the life of Lewis Black. Featuring never-before-seen footage from Black's earlier career, interviews with friends, fellow comedians, his touring crew and also his family, from his love for food (and accidentally mistaking sand dollars for cookies) and more! The documentary definitely is a wonderful inclusion on this DVD!
"Lewis Black - Stark Raving Black" comes with a slip cover. Also, included is an insert which is folded up and is actually a poster for the "Stark Raving Black" film.
Lewis Black is one of those comedian's that stays in your memory. Similar to how Sam Kinison is remembered for his ranting comedy, Lewis Black is more on the intellectual side as he takes on politics, religion and the absurdities of life but once he begins his monologue, we see his transformation to a man in rage.
For those familiar with Lewis Black's rants on the "Back in Black" segments from "The Daily Show with John Stewart" should know that Black has a lot to say about the nation's politics and his disgust for both parties. For fans of Lewis Black's work, fans will be entertained by Black's comedic presentation. There is no signs of laughs waning with his performance, nor are their boring spots throughout the whole performance. Black makes sure that with each topic he is discussing, the rhythm is right and the rants are perfectly timed. He knows when to use it and the audience responds. This is a man now in his 60's and the year's haven't made him mellow, in fact, all the stupidity in the world ignites him even more.
When Lewis Black is asked by people that since President Bush has left office, what is he going to do? Black is a logical performer and as if Bush's leaving the office is going to end stupidity in America? Lewis is also not afraid to let people know what he thinks about both Republicans and Democrats.
Black also talks about taking part in the USO Christmas tour and how he was chosen as entertainment for the troops and to make things more crazy, he had to follow Vince Gill and his wife Amy Grant (both are Christians) and for the first time in his life, he felt a taste of Christianity and he had to get away.
Black just doesn't miss a beat as he talks about hitting 60, talking about the recession and economic times, having an iPhone and using AT&T's crappy mobile service and more. And even though Black is known for being a ranting madman, his comedy does make sense, it's smart and hilarious and it makes him one of the unique comedians out there and his film "Stark Raving Black" definitely shows him at the top of his game. No signs of slowing down and as long as their is stupidity in the world, Black will be there to call it like it is.
So, "Stark Raving Black" is an entertaining comedy DVD and what I found wonderful about this release is that his career is celebrated through the documentary "BASIC BLACK: The Lewis Black Story". Everything one would want to know about Lewis Black is in this documentary. Classic clips from Black's earlier years, discussions with friends and family about working with him when he first started and working with him today. Fans of Lewis Black will want this DVD not only for his fine performance but also for the documentary.
Overall, "Stark Raving Black" is a wonderful Lewis Black comedy DVD. If you are familiar with his style of comedy and have been enjoying his comedy for many years, this DVD is more than just a comedy film, it's a celebration of Lewis Black's comedy career! Definitely recommended!