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Daniel Tosh: People Pleaser (2016)

Comedy Central
DVD Released: 4/19/2016

All Ratings out of

Concert:
1/2
Video:

Audio:

Extras: No Extras

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/4/2016

Anyone who follows music knows about the "sophomore slump" where a band's second album doesn't live up the quality of their first effort. But, there's also a phenomenon which I've noticed where the second album will also be louder and harder, most likely a by-product of the necessity to have stage-presence while touring to promote their first album. Similarly, I've seen a phenomenon where stand-up comedians will change their style over the course of performances. For their first big show, many will be light and airy, sticking with relatable funny material. But, for their second tour, they get more introspective and focus on darker, more personal issues. (The best example of this is the stark contrast between Richard Jeni's 1989 special "Boy From New York City" and his 1991 effort "Crazy From the Heat".) Daniel Tosh appears to be following this same path with his third Comedy Central special People Pleaser.

Daniel Tosh came onto the comedy scene in the early part of the new millennium, and began to receive attention with his first special, Completely Serious. His style of comedy involves almost rant-like stream of consciousness diatribes in which he bounces from subject to subject with just the slightest connecting thread. Priding himself on not having segues like other comedians, Tosh just talks about seemingly random things which eventually tie together. Completely Serious saw him talk about relationships and family, while inserting a lot of non-sensical things, while, at the same time, showing a very edgy side by bringing in race and gender issues. Tosh really exploded with the debut of Tosh.0, his TV series in which he makes fun of internet videos and personalities. This gave a much wider audience a first-hand look at his irreverence and his apparent lack of shame over saying wildly racist or sexist things. Is that who he really is, or is it all in good fun?

Those same questions will linger when you jump into People Pleaser, which was shot in Los Angeles in July of last year. From the outset, Tosh immediately jumps into criticisms about American jingoism. From there, he doesn't let up, talking about racist cops, mass murders, unemployment, children, infidelity, and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. No topic is off limits here and at several points during the show, Tosh warns the audience that they aren't going to like the jokes and that he doesn't care. The performance is a truly odd political rant, which never truly becomes political. Tosh simply divulges his unique perspective on many hot and controversial topics, often sounding like an old man who wants the kids off of his lawn.

The problem with People Pleaser isn't the scathing concepts which Tosh introduces or his apathy at the audience's wishes. It's the fact that it's not very funny. I'm a big fan of Daniel Tosh and Completely Serious is one of my all-time favorite comedy concerts, if nothing else because it is so weird. The way in which Tosh delivers his jokes has not changed. He still goes off on brief tangents. It's the material and content which has changed. People Pleaser shows him at his most serious and political, again, touching on many real-word topics. Gone are the days of pterodactyls, wave runners and Target frames, instead being replaced with things taken directly from the news.

As noted above, Tosh's delivery always came with a huge dose of "Is he being serious?" and it gets even bigger here. His often emotional tone is now accompanied by topical stories, which makes it very difficult for the audience to tell exactly where he's coming from. Much of the show feels as if it could be transferred to a political rally with little editing. The problem here isn't the content, it's the level of humor involved. Tosh typically has me in tears, but I only laughed out loud a few times here. There are some decidedly humorous observations, but that's all that they are, nods towards reality and not necessarily jokes. Tosh has moved away from his old stuff, going in the direction of something akin to Bill Maher (not a bad thing), but it's lost its comedic tone.

Viewer of Tosh.0 know that Daniel has been hyping People Pleaser for several weeks and I was very excited about seeing the show. So, it was certainly a letdown to find myself chuckling every now and then, but never truly enjoying the show. The odd thing is, I actually agree with some of Tosh's points and as bizarre as some of them are, they make sense. But, I didn't come here for Face the Nation, I wanted the old, crazy Tosh I used to know.

Daniel Tosh People Pleaser does have one great joke about Cleveland on DVD courtesy of Comedy Central. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source materials. The colors look fine and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good and the depth shows us that Tosh is upstage from the backdrop. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Tosh's delivery is always intelligible and the sounds of the audience come through the rear speakers.

The Daniel Tosh People Pleaser DVD contains no extra features. However, it does contain two versions of the show -- the broadcast version which runs at 50:08 and the extended version which runs at 1:02:13. Why would anyone watch the shorter one?

Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long