Country music parody artist Cledus T. Judd (real name: Barry Poole) has done the impossible: he's packed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of jokes and visual gags into a 47-minute DVD without making me laugh once. Most people will come up with something funny if they compress this many attempted laughs into such a short time period (which explains why even the lamest Naked Gun knockoff movies, like Spy Hard, have a few genuinely hilarious moments) but not ol' Cledus. The intentional misspelling of "Essential" in the title is as good as it gets.
Judd is inevitably described as a country-and-western answer to "Weird Al" Yankovic, specializing in allegedly funny versions of popular songs (with a few originals thrown in), but he's no Weird Al. Not even close. Whereas Yankovic is clever enough to create a Bob Dylan parody made up entirely of palindromes, Judd settles for jokes about bodily functions, poorly timed slapstick, and Hasselhoffian production values.
If you're tickled by the idea that women get fat and spend all your money on clothes once you get married – as shown in Judd's "Wives Do It All The Time" video (a spoof of "Guys Do It All The Time," by the unfortunate Mindy McCready) – maybe this one's for you. Even if I did find that idea funny, I'd still be turned off by Judd's unbearable, nasal, screechy singing voice. Judd's fans would respond that he's just trying to sound silly, but I think some of his parodies could potentially be funny – well, amusing, anyway – if he played them straight.
I have nothing against "redneck" humor. I kind of liked Blue Collar TV, and even Larry the Cable Guy has made me laugh a few times (especially in Cars). But Cledus T. Judd just doesn't approach that level of sophistication. In the artist biography included on The Essenshul Video Collection (along with a photo gallery, discography, and a one-minute red-carpet interview from the CMA Awards), Judd says he'd like to perform a duet with Yankovic. Hopefully, Al will do the writing.