Get a thesaurus and pick any laudatory word and you’ll find it applies to stand-up comic Ron James and Back Home, the DVD version of his 2007 New Year’s Eve CBC special. In this concert, the comedian goes Back Home and pokes fun at Maritimers, Canadians, and people in general. It is … ah hell, get a thesaurus will ya? Even the DVD menu is original and funny.
Back Home follows The Road Between My Ears, West Coast Wild, and Quest For The West in a series of comic and verbally agile takes on Canada. You do not have to be familiar with the previous specials to enjoy this stand-up comedy DVD but it will make you want to get the others.
In this show, James takes on a few maritime sacred cows, including the biggest: Anne of Green Gables and assorted ways of milking tourists. Of course, he opens with a routine on what the region is most famous for: its exiles. It follows he follows with a bit on going back home, local tourist attractions.
Other topics on this stand-up comedy DVD include each of the Maritime provinces, folk art, some biographical bits, and even a bit on the love for stories maritimers have.
It’s been 10 or 15 years and I still haven’t decided what I like most about James: his verbal agility; his imagery, metaphors, and similes; his body language and his mimicry skills; or that odd fastball he likes to blow by you just for fun.
My favorite fastball on Back Home is his definition of the maritimer term “buddy”. My favorite stand-up comedy routine stars Mother James and James’ stoner friends. It’s a good thing there’s an interstitial between the two.
Then again, the history of the maritimes bit on this DVD is also … ah, where’s that damn thesaurus? Long, long time James fans will recognize a couple of moments from Up and Down in Shakey Town, a small bit of the family camping trip story, and part of the trip to Quebec bit. The last fifteen minutes are more free flow bits and pieces and include the Elmer the Elephant bit.
What most comes out of this Ron James show is the lust for life behind the material: It is what I admire in him.
The only time you do not hear laughter from the crowd on this stand-up comedy DVD is when the show cuts to the animated interstitials used during the original broadcast. Should James have kept these animated gags in the show or made them part of the extras? It’s a hard call to make but they do allow you to catch your aching breath and heal that stitch in your side
Just because I feel I have to find something to criticize, there are a couple of abrupt post-production cuts here. One of them is in the George Bush in Iraq bit near the end. The sound goes stereo only around the small town / Stephen King bit.
Other Ron James Reviews
The Road Between My Ears: must have stand-up comedy DVD
Quest For The West CBC Special: now available on a comedy DVD near you
Ron James Full Tilt - 2007 Just For Laughs: This tax burdened ticket was well worth every tax gouged dollar I paid for it.
West Coast Wild: Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.
Quest For The West DVD: Great comedy DVD from brilliant monologuist
Manitoba Bound - CBC December 31, 2008 9 p.m.: Great stand-up comedy show, as usual.
The Ron James Show CBC Fridays 8 P.M. Begins 09-25-09: Fun stand-up and sketch comedy show.
The Ron James Show New Year's Eve Special 12-31-09: One-hour special. Fun but not as much as James' stand-up comedy specials of yore