Michele Balan has been doing stand-up comedy for a while now and many people have seen her on Last Comic Standing on NBC. Live! (Just Barely) From Joe's Pub in NYC is her first stand-up comedy DVD and a very good sampler of the kind of material Balan does. Aside from the first six or so minutes, where there is a bunch of pre-show garbage of interest only to those who are seen on it, Live! (Just Barely) is pretty good.
Balan is a confrontational, though not really in your face aggressive, somewhat dark observational stand-up comic and a lot of her material on Live! (Just Barely) is about every day things and events.
Her routine about working out at the gym is funny and original and this smoker will certainly follow her advice on sharing cigarettes. This segues nicely into comics' favorite target, Starbucks, though, again, Michele Balan's material on the topic goes places no other comics have gone.
One place few stand-up comics go that she makes her own is depression and suicide. Her problems in that area may be due to the fact she is not quite clear on the concept of women's support groups.
Aside from the useless intro, the one weakness of Michele Balan Live! Just Barely is she is sometimes a topical comic and stuff like that ages quickly -this DVD was also released in 2004. So the bit on Jackson's technical accident, Fifty Cent, Michael Jackson, Martha Stewart, and Tyson, is only sort of funny by now. Her take on sports and fans who take losses personally is not particularly fresh either.
Fortunately, this is only one of the cuts on his stand-up comedy DVD. The next bit, Crazy Country gets this comedienne back onto her usual, fresh and original take on life, even with stuff about Chinese delivery.
As a Canadian, however, her take on stuff Canadian is the kind of material most comics do while at the Just For Laughs Montreal International Comedy Festival to get the crowd on their side. I did however love her bit on doing a show at an all-male nudist camp.
Michele Balan's gay material is excellent as are her comments on the various TV shows we are plagued with like American Addle or Survivor. It seems no stand-up comedy act is complete now without a few jokes about post 9/11 flying and Live! (Just Barely) is no exception but the track Kibitzing and Flying is, like much of the material on this DVD, funny is original.
The show closes with a very funny and very adult bit on the evolution of the dildo and various available models.
Production value wise, Michele Balan Live! (Just Barely) is not quite up to a major studio release and more akin to a high-quality self-release. This is a one-camera show with the occasional audible clanking of dishes and cutlery.
If you are one of Balan's many fans or like a comedienne whose take on things is original, usually dark, honest, and a little blue, this is a very good stand-up comedy DVD.