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DVD Review: Paul Rodriguez Presents: Comedy Rehab

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Paul Rodriguez Presents: Comedy Rehab was filmed in Santa Fe, NM, and brings together some of Latino/Hispanic comedy’s funniest people. Comedian Dennis Gaxiola opens the show and introduces the evening’s host, Paul Rodriguez. Gaxiola’s performance can be seen in the special features delivering more of his routine, which is excerpted here.

Paul Rodriguez, now in his fifties and funny as ever, treats us to his views on family planning, mid-life crises, diets, cheating, and moms: “our mothers are the centers of everything we are, the centers of our world.” Which means he gets the mom’s seal of approval (me being the mom). He also offers excellent advice to his audience, “what other people think of you is none of your business…if you’re happy with you that’s all that matters. Find somebody that loves you—at that weight.” He then discusses the advantages of large women over skinny women (larger women can back you up) and Viagra. Towards the end of his set he explains why Latinos never get eaten by wild animals. Call me crazy, but is Paul Rodriguez beginning to sound like Jackie Mason? He’s oh-so-Latino, but every once in a while, I swear, a little Jackie Mason creeps into his delivery.

The second act on the bill is Gene Pompa, a man who made me laugh out loud with his commentary about a woman who was half-Mexican and half-German, a beanerschnitzel. Pompa teaches us how one’s attitudes about inequality change as one ages. When he watches a movie in which all the prisoners are Latinos, he gets angry about stereotyping, but when he watches a movie in which all the prisoners are white, he thinks “Where’s the Latinos?” Pompa’s take on bankruptcy and credit identity theft is hilarious. There’s some amusing bits on calling 411, relationships, and a very funny phone sex bit involving a plumber.

All of the comedians in Paul Rodriguez Presents: Comedy Rehab mine humor comparing ethnic groups, particularly whites, African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians. Shayla Rivera was once a rocket scientist. Really. She begins her set discussing Latino women and how she wanted to be the first Puerto Rican woman in space. She advises how to raise kids, “with children you only need to know one thing: just beat the s*** out of them,” and explains that Latino and black women stay young forever by getting a work-out beating their kids. On the other hand, white women try to reason with their kids and end up with wrinkles. Rivera also riffs on come-on lines, empty-nest syndrome, and getting older, and shares her view on post-partum depression, “After you have children you’ll never sneeze again without peeing in your pants.” She is, by far, the funniest female comedian I’ve seen in a long time.

Next up is Manny Maldonado, whom Paul Rodriguez introduces with “You’ll be hearing a lot about this guy because he just bought a high-powered rifle…” Maldonado covers the transsexual man who was pregnant and gave birth, who also happened to have a mustache (“Hey, Oprah, my mom has a mustache. What’s up?”). He addresses the white audience members with “now you know how we feel when we go to Starbucks” and does an amusing imitation of white people picking fruit (“No Mexicans, no produce”). Maldonado’s other topics include marriage, running through the sprinkler, Tony Montana as a school teacher, and my favorite store, Hot Topic, “Is it me or does the devil work there?”

Special features include “Paul the Conquistador” which features Rodriguez in full costume, mixing many of the jokes he had delivered in his act with other material; Dennis Gaxiola’s opening routine; Benny Martinez delivering humorous observations (many of which compare ethnicities); and a behind-the-scenes tour. Martinez is the highlight of the special features, delivering jokes that are both funny and challenging.

You do not have to understand Spanish to appreciate the humor in Paul Rodriguez Presents: Comedy Rehab, but it adds to the enjoyment. The performers occasionally slip into Spanish and if you are not bi-lingual, you’ll wish you were.

Bottom Line: Would I buy/rent Paul Rodriguez Presents: Comedy Rehab? Yes, rent. It’s not the funniest comedy revue I’ve seen in the last few months, but it holds its own.

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