Rhode Scholar and Built For Joy
Tom Rhodes
Stand-up Comedy DVD
2 discs
See artist’s website

Rhode Scholar is far from your usual stand-up comedy DVD set, then again Tom Rhodes is certainly not your usual stand-up comic. This is a two disc set that is on the very, very odd side and so takes a bit of getting used to.

The best way to tell you what the Rhode Scholar DVD is like is the embedded YouTube clip here. Stand-up comic and social and life pundit Tom Rhodes travels the world from Amsterdam to Wichita and presents clips of the towns he visits and the people he meets as well as clips from his shows.

The second, bonus, DVD, Built For Joy, is a one-hour show where Rhodes uses a slide show as a starting point for his smart observation based comedy.

I am more partial to Built For Joy than Rhode Scholar. Rhode Scholar features too many different kinds of bits and pieces, making for a demanding and exhausting viewing experience when taken in in one sitting. It worked better for me in installments. Watched this way, it is an original and enjoyable experience. The Beijing segment is quite good; toboganning down the Great Wall sure looks cool.

Oddly enough, the camera work for the travel pieces is often far superior to the comedy club bits.

According to Rhodes, humans are Built For Joy. He uses his own experiences and family pictures as a set-up for his commentary and sometimes caustic, sometimes touching observational comedy.

Built For Joy feels very improvisational so it has a few misses here and there such as the paintings bit.

Both DVD in this set are an acquired taste, even for Rhodes fans.Both entertain and inform.

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