Richard Jeni
A Big Steaming Pile Of Me
Stand-Up Comedy DVD
HBO Video 2005
60 minutes


Richard Jeni (RIP) was at the top of his form in A Big Steaming Pile Of Me. This very likeable and versatile stand-up comic whose strength has always been his ability to work the humor in contrasts and relationships becomes a little bit more political in this stand-up comedy DVD concert.

In a comedy DVD full of solid material, the funniest definitely has to be Jeni’s soon to be classic take on the Vagina Monologues. I have seen this particular bit at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal and it is an absolute joy to finally get to see it again. The fact this standup comedian can insert circumcision into his take on that play just shows how clever and funny he can be.

Of course, no skit would be complete without jokes about Michael Jackson and this is how this concert performance opens. It is ironic, watching this a week after the verdict was rendered, that Jeni’s joke (in a set taped in 2004) is that he could easily create reasonable doubt in the Jackson case.

Considering the vast terrain he chose to cover for this performance, the segue tool he uses, that of getting angry letters from people each time he opens his mouth, is particularly clever as it allows him to go from right-wing, left-wing, and centrist extremists to the wonderful world of proctology to the war on terror. These are major mental leaps that Jeni takes as if they were a skip and a jump.

The political comedy in this set is here and there but especially in bits like Hate For America and American Marketing which, of course, immediately lead to Diarrhea and Martha Stewart. This is not the in your face, I’ve got an agenda, take easy potshots at whoever is in power humour so many stand-ups are known for but a much more subtle and incisive kind of joke.

Of course, no set by this very personable guy would be complete without a bit on the relationship between men and women and the joys and pains of being single (or was it the joys and pains of being married?). This, and that is part of the joke, bit is called Security Alert.

Not that everything is absolutely perfect on A Big Steaming Pile Of Me. For some bizarre reason he could not leave well enough alone and felt, in the last couple of minutes of his set, the need to justify making jokes about the world around him. Thankfully, this only lasts a couple of minutes.

You could always rely on Richard Jeni to make you laugh and to give you a solid performance and A Big Steaming Pile Of Me definitely proves that.


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