Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Humor Billed As "Unsophisticated" Manages To Be Largely Unfunny With Jeff Foxworthy’s Totally Committed.

The Good: One or two jokes - this is not a laughless disc
The Bad: Largely dull, drawn out, telegraphed jokes with no real punch.
The Basics: In an underwhelming performance, Jeff Foxworthy jokes about marriage, relationships, living as a Redneck and other subjects with listless abandon.

The fun thing about Redneck jokes is that it doesn't matter what social strata one is from, the jokes are pretty self-explanatory. So, it's not like The New Yorker (reviewed here!) where it's highbrow or Family Guy (reviewed here!) which often depends on an extensive knowledge of pop-culture. Redneck jokes are usually a series of jokes strung together that basically put down an element in society that prides itself on ignorance and near-poverty. The shining star of Redneck culture is Jeff Foxworthy and my interest in his DVD Totally Committed came as part of a "balance of the universe" thing. I was getting Brokeback Mountain (reviewed here!) out of my local library and I figured I ought to have something more indicative of the other side to go with it. It's yin-yang reviewing time, I suppose.

Jeff Foxworthy, most noted for his endless streams of "You might be redneck, if . . ." jokes foregoes such obvious catch phrases for his HBO special, released on DVD without any frills or extras. Instead, this disc is 55 minutes of Jeff Foxworthy on stage trying to be funny. He pokes fun at relationships, antics of children, what it means to be a redneck, and the foibles of being married for a long time.

It's pretty generic humor and the truth is, there's a sense throughout the presentation that Jeff Foxworthy knows that. A good comedian does not laugh at their own jokes, granted. But on Totally Committed, Foxworthy does not even look amused for most of the night. He eases his way through the jokes like Steven Wright on downers without any spark or charisma. At one or two points, he engages in physical comedy, throwing himself wildly around the stage, but otherwise, he is . . . sedate. "Sedate" is one of those words I would think comedians would like to avoid.

That is not to say it's an entirely laughless evening. Totally Committed contains a routine by Foxworthy that I enjoy, where he talks about looking for things and the stupidity of the phrase "It's always in the last place you look." I had seen this portion before and it was still amusing the second time around. Outside that, I did find myself smiling once or twice at other times in his performance.

The truth is, though, there is nothing distinctive about this performance. I cannot imagine why anyone would want to own it on DVD; there is little truly laugh-out-loud funny the first time. I doubt this sedate version of Foxworthy holds up well over multiple viewings. When he compares being married with being in the National Guard ("We might not see as much action as we used to, but we live to fight another day") it's dry. Bland. Even on the first pass.

The thing is, this is underwhelming, especially for HBO. There is nothing edgy in the humor of Totally Committed. There is barely even five minutes of solid entertainment. It's insulting for the network that champions some of the edgier comics (for years Chris Rock, Dennis Miller, Def Comedy Jam) to put out something so lackluster.

And I can say, because it's mostly Redneck jokes (which Foxworthy defines as "unsophisticated americans"), it's not because I didn't GET the jokes.

For other stand-up routines or comedies about making comedy, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Eddie Izzard: Dress To Kill
Harmful If Swallowed - Dane Cook
30 Rock - Season 4


© 2012, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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