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Paramount Home Video presents
The Amazing Johnathan: Wrong at Every Level (2006)

"You need to stay on the trap door, or you're going to hit your chin on the way down."
- The Amazing Jonathan

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: August 14, 2007

Stars: The Amazing Johnathan
Other Stars: Penny Wiggins, Kristy Clark, Erica Jones, T.J. Lawson, Chris Ritter
Director: Paul Miller

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult language and situations)
Run Time: 00h:42m:07s
Release Date: August 14, 2007
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+B-B- B

DVD Review

The Amazing Johnathan is a magician/comedian, known for his unorthodox array of tricks that rarely work, accented by a veneer of hostility and a wee bit of stage blood, earning him the nickname "The Freddy Krueger Of Comedy". His act relies more on humor than it does magic, and the thrill is more in the setup than the delivery, as the fun comes from his asides and reliance on an assortment of props. This 2006 Comedy Central special contains 42 minutes of uncensored funny, so the stage banter is sprinkled with unexpurgated obscenities—including a whooper like "motherf**ker" though curiously a random "sh*t" remains bleeped during the disc's extended $20 bill trick.

Those looking for traditional standup and/or traditional magic will likely be sorely disappointed, and I imagine the target audience is the Penn & Teller crowd, those with a taste for something a little twisted and a little off. The gag with The Amazing is that his jokes are often groaners, but he's blunt with a coarse punchline and a general sense that he has no idea what he's doing, as when he frantically looks "for the thing that makes this trick work" during a proposed knife toss with an audience volunteer. His version of "pick a card, any card" is caustic and dumb, a juvenile yet funny set of commands that makes the actual trick secondary.

A regular fixture in his act is the Anna Nicole Smith-ish assistant Psychic Tanya (Penny Wiggins), a ditzy blonde—"the wheel turns but the hamster's dead"—who is often the recipient of verbal and physical abuse as she theoretically helps with a trick. She appears here sparingly (because a little does go a long way), and actually contributes some solid lowbrow comedy, including a nice sight gag payoff as part of awarding an audience volunteer some free Blue Man Group tickets. The supplemental material feature some additional performance footage of Psychic Tanya, enduring a classic "Amazing" bit where she has playing cards reluctantly staple gunned to her head as part a makeshift blindfold during a mindreading act.

Wrong At Every Level is weakened slightly by a short television runtime—which includes the original commercial fadeouts—though there are nearly 25 minutes of deleted footage from this performance as part of the supplements. Plus, there's the uncensored language, which a nice touch. I suppose The Amazing Johnathan is love it or hate it type of act, depending on what you find entertaining. Personally, I don't get the appeal of Carlos Mencia, but a lot of folks do. If you still have no clue who The Amazing Johnathan is, you can gauge whether you would find his style funny by asking yourself if you would laugh at the idea of a performer using the following joke to an audience member: "Did you ever blow bubbles when you were a kid? Well, he's back in town." Cut to maniacal clown waving from offstage.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Paramount has issued this in its original 1.33:1 fullframe broadcast aspect ratio. Audience shots reveal some moderate grain, but the onstage sequences carry bright colors and nicely defined edges. Some minimal detail loss along the edges of the stage lighting, but in general a rather nice looking transfer

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. Nothing especially noteworthy either way, just a solidly ordinary transfer providing clear voice quality with no trace of hiss or distortion, and not much in the way of spatial separation.

Plain but more than adequate.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Drawn Together: Season Three, Reno 911!: The Complete Fourth Season, Mind Of Mencia: Season Two
9 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: While the feature runs just under 45 minutes, the amount of extras does its best to compensate. A set of nine deleted scenes (24m:25s) were clearly chopped to allow Comedy Central to fit the show within the one-hour time slot, and feature some extended onstage scenes with the audience volunteer, as well as a nice variation on the classic threaded razor blade. Also included is a brief Premium Blend appearance (06m:23s) with a range of card tricks (and an old school multi-colored egg bag) and even a bit of mind-reading. Comedy Central Presents: The Amazing Johnathan (22m:04s) is a 2001 special, and it has one of my favorite Psychic Tanya moments involving a very painful blindfold.

The rest of the extras are Comedy Central promos/trailers.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Not so much prestidigitation as it is dark comedy, this Comedy Central special—presented with uncensored language—captures The Amazing Johnathan in a tight 42-minute set of sight gags and crude humor, theoretically built around magic. A set of additional Johnathan performances in the supplements tack on another 50 minutes of comedy.

Funny stuff, and a hearty rental recommendation.

 


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