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"Tonight we're going on a journey. This theater is our ship. I'm your captain. Hopefully you'll see things from a different perspective, renew your empathy, gain a little insight, and have some fun, too."
DVD ReviewThe opening credits of Eric Bogosian's one man show Wake Up and Smell The Coffee features a snarling, animated dog, which is a fair representation of the tenacity of this often volatile humorist. Bogosian, best known to most from his frenetic lead role in Oliver Stone's Talk Radio, earned his stripes, and continues to exist, in the difficult to define category of the performance art/theater monologist.
He's not necessarily a comedian, though he is certainly funny, and like a modern-day Lenny Bruce or Spalding Gray, Bogosian barrels through a variety of social issues with satirical wit and intelligence.
Bogosian tackles what he refers to as "insight into human nature" with this show, and there are few, if any, subjects that are completely taboo for the performer to poke at. He moves easily from character to character rapidly, changing voices and delivery to create a fluid, almost lyrical, act that is laden with equal amounts of vitriol, anger, and beneath it all, a unique kind of smart guy humor that Bogosian seems to resonate with.
I'm a little unclear as to why Bogosian felt it necessary to include a disclaimer at the start of his performance, citing how post-9/11 he no longer performs this show as is, in a statement that I imagine was intended to dilute some of the sting of certain parts of his show. The segments that broach touchier areas that in this current climate might seem either insensitive or inciteful are no less valid than they were before September 11, 2001, and to me Bogosian never seemed like the kind of guy to need to soften his edge for anyone.
We've all heard stand-up comedians tackle subjects like airports or self-help before, but in the hands of someone like Bogosian, the material as presented here is given the expansion of falling somewhere between performance art and theater, with frothy and manic exuberance.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+
Image Transfer Review: Wake Up and Smell The Coffee is presented in 1.33:1. The transfer is fair, far from perfect, but adequate nonetheless. Lighting is minimal, and sometimes the dark background often blends with Bogosian's clothing.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: Simple 2.0 stereo is what's provided, and the presentation is basic and satisfactory. No flashy effects, no rear channel activity, just Bogosian's voice, which comes across clean and clear.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
10 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back, Brother's Keeper, Go Tigers!, Keep The River On Your Right, The Legend of Ron Jeremy, Lost in La Mancha, See How They Run, The Smashing Machine, Sophie B. Hawkins: The Cream Will Rise, The Weather Underground
Extras Review: Extras include an Eric Bogosian Interview (11m:52s), where he talks about what he calls the "jazz of language", and it was interesting to see him cranked down a few notches in the adrenaline department as he discussed how his shows are developed and honed.
Bogosian and crew bios and a set of Docurama trailers are also included. The disc is cut into 12 chapters.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsEric Bogosian, with his usual over-caffeinated style, bounds and shouts through a well-written one man show that, if nothing else, is never, ever boring.
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