Ron James is a jeezly great comedy writer. His Quest For The West CBC special, now available as a comedy DVD near you is this Canadian stand-up comic's take on the western prairies (well, Alberta and sometimes Saskatchewan), life in Canada, politics, the goings on in Banff National Park and the Calgary Stampede, and people in general.
What stands out about this standup (can't write like him, I guess) is not only his good-humoured jokes with a bite to them but how he can string words and clauses together to make his material not only very funny and topical but also a joy to listen to. This is not facile comedy at all.
The CBC special is also well produced and thought out. The segues to and from the commercials are weird little factoids about Western landmarks featuring Ron James in a snow globe. Hopefully this will somehow be kept on the DVD just because they are so neat.
One of James' many strengths is the absolutely seamless segue. I doubt many, if any, stand-up comic can match a five-minute bit that covers rolling a joint, skiing down a diamond slope, cross-country skiing and the bedroom, the ecosystem, tree huggers, golf courses, bears, De Niro, and a couple of other things tossed in just for the hell of it. This standup comedian seems to revel in his ability to just lay on verbal tour de force after verbal tour de force on the Quest For The West DVD. Add this to his ability to do physical comedy to strengthen his jokes and you got yourself one hell of a comedian.
Quest For The West is definitely a Canadian television special so our neighbours (spelled with a u) to the south will probably find some of the more topical political humour a bit hard to get -something even Canucks will have a problem with a few years down the road-- but there is not enough of that to really bug them. What might annoy an American audience is James' caustic wit when it comes to how we perceive them. Then again, people who enjoy good comedy are not usually thin-skinned.
Not that James is absolutely perfect in his latest CBC special. He does mug for laughs a bit too often and the special is only sixty minutes long.
Other Ron James Reviews
The Road Between My Ears: must have stand-up comedy DVD
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
Back Home DVD: Brilliant, great, wonderful, and so on stand-up comedy DVD by comic wordsmith
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