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Artie Lange - It's the Whiskey Talking Print E-mail
Tuesday, 08 February 2005

Artie Lange - It's The Whiskey Talking

Image Entertainment
MPAA rating: Unrated
starring: Artie Lange
film release year: n/a
DVD release year: 2005
film rating: Three-and-a-Half Stars
sound/picture rating: Two Stars
reviewed by: Bryan Dailey

I’ve listened to Artie Lange ever since he first joined the Howard Stern show as Jackie Martling’s replacement, and have seen his work on “Mad TV” and in the hilarious cult comedy classic “Dirty Work,” but I had never heard of seen any of Lange’s stand-up act before now. On Howard Stern, Lange gets to throw out little jokes and comments from time to time and he is consistently funny, be he really shines on the show when Stern lets him tell long stories about his drunken and drug-filled wild days. Although he has kicked his cocaine problem, Lange is still a self-acknowledged practicing alcoholic, so the good old days aren’t really so old. Often, when Lange goes on a jag about a wild night of drinking, he might be referring to the previous weekend.

When he realizes that he had a powerful promotion machine courtesy of his new morning radio gig, it was time for Lange to do something that could make him some extra money to support his terrible gambling problem. Recording a live gig at the Improv in Tucson, Arizona, Lange created a stand-up comedy DVD that is appropriately titled “It’s the Whiskey Talking.” Covering topics ranging from accidentally crapping in his own pants in the woods while high on heroin to the fact that white people still cannot casually say the “N” word while playing basketball with a group of nine good black friends, no subject is taboo to Mr. Lange. Lange has a bizarre love/hate relationship with the crowd, berating all the people in Arizona for being “so damn good-looking” and often tells them to “f*** off,” but at the same time, it’s pretty obvious that he really has much love for his fans and knows they are where is bread is buttered. He’s from Jersey, so even when he’s “breaking people’s balls,” as they say on the East Coast, he really means no harm. In one particularly funny moment, he actually gives a fan a refund for the ticket price of “Dirty Work.”

The gig lasts about 45 minutes. However, I can’t help but think that a big chunk of the show was cut out. I say this not because the bits seem disjointed, but because it seems that in a matter of seconds, late in the gig, Lange goes from coherent and aware to instantly belligerent and obviously plastered. Either the booze really kicked in at that point, or some of the transition period was cut out, as Lange goes from buzzed to really drunk. At one point, he goes on a drunken rambling rampage, throwing out more offensive comments as he does a piece about how the NBC show Will and Grace can get a little “edgier.” He then takes a stab at the FCC, saying, “Let’s see the FCC try to censor that one.”

Two bonus features on the disc include the 17-minute short “Gameday,” a silly short film about adult softball leagues, written by and starring Lange, and a 24-minute behind the scenes documentary that shows Lange’s pre-show preparation rituals before his stand-up gigs. The softball movie is pretty silly but features Lange wearing a funny T-shirt that says “And on the 8th day, God created Molly Hatchet.” It’s interesting to see a younger, clean-shaven Lange, but the film is certainly not any kind of classic. The documentary is a much more entertaining piece, as viewers ride along in Lange’s car on the way to a gig in his home state of New Jersey. We learn that Lange was a longshoreman who was always cracking jokes at work and, after enough encouragement from his dockworker buddies, he decided to give comedy a shot. The managers down at the docks said he had a guaranteed job when he came back from failing at comedy. It took a long time to get his big break and, according to Lange, it’s still questionable if he has actually “made it” yet, but this longshoreman-turned-comedian/actor/radio personality has certainly surprised many of his doubters.

Howard Stern show fans also get to see the comedian who goes by the name The Reverend Bob Levy. Lange and Levy often do small comedy tours together on weekends and when Lange has time off from the radio show. Lange says it’s their mutual love of alcohol that brought him and Levy together, and their brash, unapologetic, offensive styles fit together perfectly and really speak to the working class, blue-collar sports fanatic party crowd. Their shows are filled with actual frat boys, grown-up frat boys and guys just like Lange back when he was working at the docks, guys who want to party, laugh, have a good time and see a quasi-celebrity who they have come to rely on to entertain them on their way to work in the mornings.

This DVD has a pretty mediocre picture and the sound is nothing special. It was obviously done on the cheap but, as far as I’m concerned, as long as you can see and hear the performer, it’s more about that content when it comes to live comedy DVDs. Lange’s comedy is often very funny, but it’s very hit and miss. He’s at his funniest when he’s recounting stories from his really crazy days, but it’s a little bit like watching a train wreck as he gets drunker and drunker. You want to laugh, but you might find yourself thinking that he’s going to need an intervention at some point. You’ll need to be a Howard Stern regular to get many of Lange references and jokes, including his signature AC/DC “FIRE!!!” yell and his Jeff the Drunk impression. If you aren’t familiar with his Howard Stern bits, you are going to feel a little lost, but if you don’t mind some edgy humor, you are still going to find a lot to laugh at on “It’s the Whiskey Talking.” If four-letter words and poop jokes offend you, stay clear of this disc.

more details
sound format: English 2.0 Dolby Digital
aspect ratio: Full-Frame 1.33:1
special features: 17-Minute “Gamesday” Short; 24-Minute “Backstage Pass” Documentary
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 36-inch Sony XBR

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