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Comedy Review: Doug Benson, Potty Mouth

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The latest CD from comic Doug Benson, Potty Mouth, features almost an hour of his standup routine, and comes with a bonus DVD of what his publicity describes as his cult TV favorite The Benson Interruption. Recorded live on the 20th of April–4/20 being a number less significant in numerology than it is in the cannabis culture—it is not surprising that pot is at the heart of his comedy. After all this is the man responsible for the film Super High Me. This is the man that co-created and performed in The Marijuana-Logues. Besides, isn’t the CD called Potty Mouth?

The set itself has the comedian talking about Morgan Spurlock’s films and pot, words you aren’t allowed to say on television and pot, CNN and pot, tweeting and pot, other assorted mind altering substances and pot—and of course pot and pot. Thus I am led to believe that the audience Benson intends speaking to is pretty much interested in one central subject; peripheral topics may intrude (interrupt), but there is a theme and that theme is front and center. I am not saying the man isn’t funny. There are certainly laughs in the set. But there are a hell of a lot more laughs if you are tuned into cannabis, than if you’re not. If you’re looking for drug free comedy, you more than likely want to look elsewhere. If pot humor is your thing, you’re in the right place.

The bonus DVD contains six episodes of Benson’s 2010 Comedy Central show, The Benson Interruption. Each show features three comedians doing material from their standup act while Benson sits stage right in a wing chair and interrupts them with what are presumably comic ad libs. When the premise works the results can be hilarious, unfortunately it doesn’t always work. Instead of spontaneniety, the interruptions often feel forced. At times Benson chooses to interrupt in the middle of something really interesting. The guest comic is on a roll, and Benson kills the moment. Moreover some of the ‘spontaneous’ interruptions seem either to have come from his standup act or been judged so funny, they became part of it, whichever came first. Still there are some good laughs. Some of the better chemistry occurs with T.J. Miller, Paul Scheer, and Brian Posehn, but even with them there are weaker moments.

At the end of each set, Benson and the featured comic engage in a “tweet off,” tweets it seems are an essential element in the Benson arsenal. Each reads a tweet or two from what is supposed to be their Twitter feed in a kind of comic one upsmanship duel. Like the show itself the tweets are uneven. You can get a really witty remark; you can get something that falls flat. Benson has an HIV tweet that is quite effective, and I am not going to spoil the joke for those of you who haven’t seen it. There is also some nice give and take with Tiq Notaro who reads her texts because she doesn’t tweet.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the DVD is all the interruptions of the interruptions for the commercials. I understand that this is a TV show and they had to cut away for the advertisers, but the constant breaks are truly annoying. Annoying as well is the necessity to open every show with an explanation of the premise. If you are seeing it once a week, you probably don’t mind the repetition, but if you’re watching a DVD, it gets old very fast. Benson does try to handle the problem by using a different comic bit in the explanation each time, but it is still annoying.

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About Jack Goodstein

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