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Norm Macdonald: Me Doing Standup DVD Review

Norm Macdonald: Me Doing Standup (2011) DVD cover art -- click to buy the DVD from Amazon.com Norm Macdonald: Me Doing Standup
Special & DVD Details

Original Airdate: March 26, 2011 / Running Time: 60 Minutes (Extended Uncensored Cut) / Rating: Not Rated

Writer/Star: Norm Macdonald / Director: David Steinberg / Executive Producers: John Irwin, Norm Macdonald, Marc Gurvitz

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Surround 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: None; Closed Captioned; Extras Not Captioned
DVD Release Date: June 14, 2011 / Suggested Retail Price: $16.99
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5) / Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase

Buy Norm Macdonald: Me Doing Standup on DVD from Amazon.com Buy the concert CD album

I'm happy to see Norm Macdonald working again. Macdonald was an integral part of what to me was a golden age of "Saturday Night Live",
having spent four seasons as a cast member (three of those anchoring the "Weekend Update" news report) and one as a writer during the 1990s. Macdonald was one of the few to survive the interminable NBC sketch comedy show's great transition of the mid-'90s, which bid farewell to burgeoning and future movie stars (Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Rob Schneider, David Spade) and hello to a new crop of talent led by Will Ferrell.

Since being fired from "SNL" in 1998 (for "not being funny"), Norm has tried his hand at many things: writing and starring in the near-cult classic Dirty Work, creating and starring in two sitcoms (ABC's 2-season "The Norm Show"/"Norm" from 1999 to 2001, and Fox's 13-episode "A Minute with Stan Hooper" in 2003), voicing Lucky the dog in four and counting Dr. Dolittle movies (the last three uncredited), and making various TV appearances as guest star ("My Name is Earl", "The Fairly OddParents") and as a talk show guest who entertains without necessarily having anything to promote.

This year has given a boost in visibility to the comedian, letting him host Comedy Central's "Sports Show with Norm Macdonald", basically a half-hour, all-sports version of his "Weekend Update" shtick (with the occasional remote piece). Shortly before that weekly series' April debut, Macdonald got his first TV special all to himself since a 1994 installment of "HBO Comedy Half-Hour." This new showcase is the one-hour Norm Macdonald: Me Doing Standup, with that title reflecting the funnyman's bone-dry sensibility.

Macdonald is off-offbeat and a large part of his appeal is his seeming disregard for his appeal. In his unforgettable appearances on Conan O'Brien's talk shows (including an uproarious and barely-rivaled four times on Conan's short-lived "Tonight Show"), Macdonald would crack a corny joke and stick with it, his perseverance a part of the punchline as he challenges you not to be amused by whatever hilariously stupid thing he just said. It's an act but a sincere one. One never doubts that Macdonald is smart enough to understand and fine-tune the meta nature of his comedy. That's his game. While other comedians may thrive on audience reaction, part of Macdonald seems to almost want a soft or delayed reaction to one of his jokes; that only adds to the delivery as he takes it in stride, with a smile on his face threatening to turn into a relaxed chortle.

Norm Macdonald questions the anonymity of Alcoholics Anonymous in his 2011 Comedy Central special "Norm Macdonald: Me Doing Standup."

Macdonald dons a leather jacket and jeans for Me Doing Standup, which was taped at San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium on January 14, 2011. He opens with a subject familiar to many contemporary comedians: death. Where others tend to get dark and stand up to mortality, Norm takes a more amusing approach, contemplating on the real killer we should be fearing: not planes or terrorists, but the human heart and its inclination to attack. After a very funny bit on defibrillators, Macdonald takes to task the way in which we speak of death these days, discussing his great-uncle's "courageous battle" with bowel cancer, fought with the viewing of "Matlock" DVDs from a hospital bed.

The funnyman is on a roll early. Unlike some of his most famous gigs, the audience seems to be eating up everything he says here (less warmly-received bits may have been cut, as random jumps to wide shots suggest). Macdonald follows a train of thought, smoothly transitioning from one topic to the next. From his uncle's fatal ailment, he proceeds to discuss the best disease ever, i.e. alcoholism. The awkwardness of sobriety in an environment of consumption is mined for laughs, along with the failings of the designated driver concept. This segues into an activity to which alcohol is friend: sex. Norm puts his own spin on the subject, challenging the scientific community's oft-cited stat about the frequency of sexual thoughts in men and proceeding to dissect the genders' different approach to the deed and post-coital shame.

The latter material is not as consistently funny as the earlier stuff and his ribald riffs on the underendowed and gay pride only hit some of their marks. Norm's thoughts on and defense of Tiger Woods' infidelity, incorporated into one of the first episodes of "Sports Show", are witty if somewhat objectionable. In his closing moments, an audience member's shouted question prompts Norm to weigh in on O.J. Simpson, a topic that pervaded his '90s Weekend Update days. The comedian is prepared to answer in diverting fashion about where Simpson's present conviction puts him in the prison pecking order.

Most of "Me Doing Standup" frames Norm Macdonald in medium shots.

The absolute highlight of Me Doing Standup is in the middle of the special's strong first half, as Norm talks about TV news and how he watches it and processes the story of a hypothetical local woman's disappearance. All should be able to relate to how he phrases his growing interest and concern.
This leads right into a tangent on how, if he were to kill a woman, he would put in the planning that serial killers so often neglect, studying her habits and not settling on a shallow grave. On the lips of another stand-up artist, such a line of thought would come off genuinely disturbing, but Macdonald has such a winning playfulness to everything he says that you can't help but be amused by the visual he provides, of luring his prey with a cheese sandwich.

Me Doing Standup runs 60 minutes, meaning it is probably a good 17 minutes longer than it was on the air. You can spot some of the material unlikely to have made the broadcast, but even the weakest bits here are better than many contemporaries' best. Available in stores beginning June 14th, the DVD only presents this extended and uncensored cut, which has a moderate amount of profanity, which given his usual venues, we don't often hear from Macdonald. This would definitely earn an R rating from the MPAA.


Though you don't watch stand-up comedy for the picture quality, you're still able to appreciate the sharp, clean video of a 21st century presentation. The DVD's 1.78:1 widescreen visuals are crisp and vibrant, with nary a disappointment accompanying Norm's modest range of motion and emotion. The soundtrack is in plain 2.0 surround, which serves the material adequately. Typical for a Comedy Central DVD, there are no subtitles but English closed captions are offered, should you not have an HDMI cable standing in the way.

One Muslim terrorist (Rob Schneider) sells another (Norm Macdonald) on martyrdom with afterlife promises in the 2005 Comedy Central pilot "Back to Norm." Norm Macdonald is grateful but he does find the gifts a bit much in the animated short "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Norm Macdonald remains poker-faced while delivering his hilariously unorthodox set of jokes at the Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget.


Three bonus features are included here. First up is "Back to Norm" (21:34), a sketch comedy pilot Macdonald made for Comedy Central that aired in 2005 but didn't get picked up as a series. It consists of five sketches: an opening in which Norm commits a press conference suicide but gets a second chance, a live piece on the origins of suicide bombers' belief that 72 virgins await them in the afterlife, taped bits about a man severely burned by his wife and Norm's wife giving him his threesome birthday wish, and a closing statement with Norm, heavily made-up to look like "60 Minutes"' Andy Rooney, waxing poetic on drugs.
Featuring appearances by Rob Schneider and "ALF" patriarch Max Wright (whose only work in recent years has been for Norm) as well as some live stand-up transitions, the show is not tremendously funny and feels behind the times. Still, it's an interesting curiosity generously preserved here and gives a hint as to what Norm's third regular post-"SNL" show could have been.

Next comes the animated short "The Twelve Days of Christmas" (4:10), in which a lounge musician's rendition of the familiar holiday tune is contrasted with a Norm caricature expressing his pained gratitude over the phone to the true love who has given him an abundance of birds chaotically transforming his home. It's quite funny in a distinctly Norm way. This 2011 cartoon is adapted from a track on Norm's debut comedy CD, 2006's Ridiculous.

Last but not least, we get Norm's contribution to Comedy Central's 2008 Roast of Bob Saget (6:20). He delivers mostly clean, old-fashioned puns completely stone-faced, following the set with some sincere kind words. The performance draws confusion and scattered laughs but also widespread approval from the crowd, which includes on the dais, John Stamos, Gilbert Gottfried, Cloris Leachman, and Greg Giraldo. It's a hilarious antidote to the usual roast vulgarity.

The main menu reformats the cover art while looping the complete country song to which Norm lip-synchs in the special's opening and closing taped bits. The two other selection screens maintain the color scheme silently. There are no inserts within the standard black Eco-Box keepcase.

Norm Macdonald's initials subtly and stylishly appear behind him at this documented January 2011 comedy concert in The Fillmore Auditorium of San Francisco.


Norm Macdonald does not disappoint in his first ever one-hour TV special. Me Doing Standup ranges from fairly amusing to downright riotous, but as his creatively checkered past illustrates, Norm's distinctive brand of comedy is not everyone's cup of tea. If you've ever enjoyed it, though, you are sure to do so in this strong program, whose DVD adds a genuinely valuable half-hour (or, as Norm says, "half a hour") of bonus features. This is Comedy Central's easiest DVD to recommend in a while.

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Reviewed May 28, 2011.

Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Irwin Entertainment, Norm Macdonald Productions, Brillstein Entertainment Partners, Comedy Central, Comedy Partners,
Comedy Central Home Entertainment, and Paramount Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.