There are not that many absolute musts when it comes to stand-up comedy DVDs but Cutting Edge Comedians of the 60 and 70s is something any comedy fan must have.

This stand-up comedy DVD is 120 minutes of the very best stand-up comics performing at that time in some impossible to get performances. Just the black and white clip of Bill Cosby doing 75$ Car or a suit and tie George Carlin doing a pep talk Newhart style is worth the price of this DVD although other stand-up fans would say Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, the two Richard Pryor clips, or most of the 19 clips on Cutting Edge Comedians of the 60s and 70s.

All of the clips on the Cutting Edge DVD are taken from TV entertainment shows between 1961 (Jackie Mason) and 1979 (David Letterman). Many of them probably from the Mike Douglas Show. Though this stand-up comedy fanatic wishes the clip mentioned what show it was taken from, it is very hard to find anything to quibble about here. Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks open with a 2000 year old man performance that covers polygamy, Robin Hood -who running around with his merry men would now be a dress designer-Freud, the original version of bullfighting, and how to live 2000 years.

Jackie Mason is a love him or hate him comic. His 1961 performance about going to a psychiatrist is pretty good even if the picture strobes. You rarely get to see Bob Newhart and his button down mind performing the Returning A Gift, toupee stand-up routine. Newhart is a comic who really works well in audio only form but seeing his body language in this routine is a lot of fun and adds to the material. The Shelley Berman bit about getting letters of complaint about his last performance and his dentist routine are quite good.

Though a Jonathan Winters fan, the Comedians of the Sixties and Seventies DVD features a clip from the Andy Williams show I have seen on the Winters compilation DVD and Winters’ General Hopping Mad Hooterton is not his best character. British comedy duo Hendra & Ullett were a discovery and really smart absurd stuff. Mort Sahl’s blackboard bit about right wing and left wing is not that good and is really dated by now.

Not everything on the Cutting Edge DVD is great. The Smothers Brothers and Steve Martin routines clock in at two minutes each and both feel incomplete. The Rowan and Martin clip is interesting if you can get past the first ten seconds of another grainy clip inserted for some bizarre reason. This 1964 clip of a sketch about an actor and a drunk in the audience is something I had not seen before. It is fun but not as smart as their usual stuff.

I would not be surprised if Sarah Silverman watched a great deal of Lily Tomlin before coming up with her character. Though I doubt she saw the Cutting Edge Comedians of the 60s and 70s bit where Edith Anne is interviewed on some entertainment show, it is hard not to see the connection between Silverman and Tomlin.

Comedy giant George Carlin is featured twice and back to back on this DVD. The first rare clip from 1967 is Carlin in a suit doing a very Bob Newhart style bit. This is another bit I had not seen or heard before anywhere. Again, just this bit is worth the price of this stand-up comedy release. The 1975 clip is Carlin’s Class Clown God routine

There are also two clips of Richard Pryor. The first is probably from the Mike Douglas Show and is Pryor doing a growing up poor in the projects bit that is reminiscent of what Cosby does. The second from 1974 is a short routine about a junkie and a wino.

Andy Kaufman (Latka on Taxi) does an interview as a Latka style character. You either like or dislike Kaufman’s absurd comedy. The guy interviewing him, probably Mike Douglas, is an excellent straight man.

The Billy Crystal clip where he imitates some singer is not that interesting. Jay Leno, again from The Mike Douglas Show, has a decent, short because incomplete, comedy bit on foreign languages. Cutting Edge Comedians of the 60s and 70s closes with David Letterman doing stand-up about people who call radio talk shows and The National Enquirer.

The extra feature on this DVD is comics doing commercials including Bill Cosby the Jell-O Pudding man, Lily Tomlin, Tommy Smothers, and a rare Mel Brooks. The Jonathan Winters litterbug commercial is available on a Winters compilation DVD.

Cutting Edge Comedians of the 60s and 70s
Bill Cosby, Jonathan Winters, Steve Martin
Godfrey Cambridge, George Carlin, Richard Pryor
Black and White / Color
Passport Entertainment 2007
120 minutes
Distributed by KOCH Entertainment

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