West Coast Wild
Ron James
CBC Home Video 2007
60 minutes
Also available at the comic?s website

Ron James is the vivacious never vitiated, vicious, vituperative nor vainglorious voluble virtuoso vilipender of our various vicissitudes, views, and values. West Coast Wild, his latest (2007) DVD features this great Canadian stand-up comic and storyteller in fine form as he focuses his amazing talent for humour and language on British Columbia aka California North. Originally made for broadcast on the CBC, Ron James West Coast Wild DVD includes the Trout family animation used as segues for the commercials. I cannot say enough good things about this comic and this DVD but here goes:

I really, really like Ron James and, so, of course, West Coast Wild. I like comedians who can tell a tale and not just a series of jokes on a given topic and especially admire those who can also use the English language to its fullest. James not only tells a great, well-structured, and funny story, but he uses more poetic devices than Canada has Tim Hortonss or America has guns.

West Coast Wild may, on the surface, be about BC -and occasionally its most famous illegal crop–but it really is about the human condition and human conditioning. While many stand-up comedy DVDs will show a shot of a Black guy laughing at the white comic’s Black joke, here the cut is to a crowd of baby-boomers enjoying James’ funny skewering. I found it curious though that the camera did not cut to Germans when James poked fun at those peace loving folks.

What always amazes me is how economically but verbally brilliantly James paint a picture of and for his audience. I am also impressed with the similes and metaphors this Canadian stand-up comedian uses as one of his many brushes: “I go in there to pick up a few things for my camping trip; I’m walking out five hours later laden with more climbing gear than a Sherpa at Edmund Hillary’s yard sale.”

There are a few very local or very Canadian moments in West Coast Wild that an international or American audience may not get but this show travels much better than a bottle of Guinness hiding in an Irishman’s pant leg.

Of the many, many good routines here, and in addition to the camping bit, I especially liked the Mid Life material. Yes, this is a standard topic for comedians of a certain age but James is an original and so is his take and the way he presents it. The very same can be said about his snoring routine which segues very nicely into not being able to sleep and microwave jokes.

James’ take on communing with nature is also really funny and the moment where he is at his most self-deprecating. This very elegantly leads to our eating habits and how we raise animals and I want some of  what he was smoking when he came up with his take on organic growers.

Notice how the camera cuts to old folks in the audience when he does his Octogenarian Migration. Amish Country Cop is the moment on West Coast Wild where James goes off topic a bit and does a bit of seemingly spur of the moment bits that are as solid as the rest of his material.

You have to admire how well structured West Coast Wild is. At the end of his one hour tour de force Ron James callsback to his premise at the beginning of the show. Granted, his question about the Easter and rabbit connection is not new stuff but I had to find something to show I am being impartial.

Ron James West Coast Wild DVD is simply brilliant. If you are lucky enough to get the CBC, James has a New Year’s Eve hour long show scheduled. Guess who’s taping that.

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