Comedian Artie Lange tries to wage a one-man war on Political Correctness on his stand-up DVD, It's the Whiskey Talkin'. And while he does manage to be aggressively, drunkenly offensive, he fails to deliver his funniest material -- he's so concerned with projecting an image that he abandons his usual quick wit in favor of shock value.
Attacking Political Correctness
Recorded in 2004 at The Improv in Tempe, Arizona, It's the Whiskey Talkin' finds a pre-sober Artie Lange (in 2008, he entered rehab for the third or fourth time for heroin addiction and went totally clean) at his loudest and drunkest (well, maybe not drunkest) kicking off his set with shouts of "Fiiire!" (an AC/DC reference he made famous on The Howard Stern Show) and never looking back. He riffs on race and homophobia, he champions drinking, he attacks the way things are becoming sanitized, he does some pandering to the Stern fans.
It all culminates in a seemingly endless routine about the kind of gay characters he would like to see on TV, done in language so unbelievably vulgar that even the difficult-to-offend (like yours truly) have to roll their eyes. The joke seems to be that he's so shocking and offensive that you'll have no choice but to laugh at how far he's willing to go. It's an idea I can get behind in concept, but I have to admit that I didn't laugh at the execution. He's just trying too hard.
Lang is a gifted storyteller -- anyone who hears him daily on the Stern show know this -- and occasionally his set settles down long enough for him to let a story unfold. These are the best moments of Whiskey; his story about once having an "accident" while high on heroin is funny because it keeps taking unexpected turns, and Lange knows how to maximize every turn to its fullest comedic effect. Even a story about Lange straining race relations during a game of street basketball is well-spun and funny -- that is, until he keeps pushing the punchline to extend the shock factor.
I'm a daily listener of The Howard Stern Show, and I think Artie Lange is the funniest guy on the radio. He has an unbelievably quick comedic mind, able to rattle off the perfect one-liner at a second's notice. In fact, on any given day of the Stern show, Lange makes me laugh five times more than he manages to on all of It's the Whiskey Talkin'. Maybe he works better as a spontaneous comedian. He still fires off a few really funny one-liners ("I don't swim, because it's never more than a half hour since I last ate."), but his prepared material has been worked too hard; it's overthought. More likely, though, is that I think Lange really wanted to present himself as the champion of the anti-PC crowd. I guess, on that level, he succeeds. I just wish it was as funny as I know he can be.
- Release Date: February 8, 2005
- Running Time: 47 minutes
- 1.33:1 Full Frame Presentation
- Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
- Studio: Image Entertainment
DVD Bonus Features
- "Game Day" Short Film
- "Backstage Pass" Behind-the-Scenes Featurette