Synopsis: Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams host a benefit for families affected by Hurricane Katrina. Participants include Bill Maher, Sarah Silverman and D.L. Hughley. Also: remote broadcasts from New Orleans; taped routines by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Presented from Las Vegas.
Comic Relief 2006 6.75
‘Comic Relief 2006’ was the twentieth anniversary show of the American version of the British charity. The US one is a non-profit organization that has raised millions to help the homeless in the United States and continues to this day. Since 1986, they had produced eight television specials. This was their ninth, after a hiatus of eight years.
It was put together to raise funds for the rebuilding of New Orleans, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Despite being a stand-up comedy show, the sobering topics of homelessness and disaster relief efforts popped up during founder Bob Zmuda’s short speeches. They was also referenced time and again by the performers (some of whom actually managed to incorporate Katrina itself and/or the subject of generosity in their stand-up routines).
It was not nearly as funny as one could have hoped for, given the calibre of performers on hand. However, it’s not Katrina’s shadow that made things less funny: it really was the material and the performances – some of which looked like they had been improvised, or at least cobbled together carelessly.
The best of the bunch were:
–Lewis Black (who yelled a lot, but served up hilarious material)
–Dane Cook (who took to task the less generous amongst us)
–Susie Essman (who seemed less experienced, but gave the proceedings a much-needed edge)
–George Lopez (with an energetic performance about the US’ immigration situation)
–Bill Maher (who may have been tipsy, but was nonetheless pretty darned sharp)
–Sarah Silverman (who crossed a few lines and had NO transition material, but was very very funny)
–Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert (who really knocked it out of the park by riffing off of each other).
The show wasn’t helped by some lacklustre hosting by Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal, who were all rather boring and verve-less. Williams tried hard, but he was way off his game and it was painfully apparent that he was making considerable efforts – all the while slipping up from time to time. Goldberg was just there, being her pleasant but unobtrusive self and Crystal seemed to have a difficult time enjoying himself, seemingly as uncomfortable as he was bloated (I think it was the fish).
The whole darned show was so poorly edited together, too, as if it were a bad TV presentation – but without the commercials to justify the abrupt cuts (actually, this was supposed to be a 3-hour show at the time, but on this DVD it’s a little less than two hours). To make matters worse, some tributes were tossed into the ‘special features’ section instead of simply incorporating them into the show. Really, this is a p!$$-poor presentation of a comedy special full of good intentions.
‘Comic Relief 2006’ has its moments, but it’s not memorable enough to warrant many viewings. It’s a real shame that it missed the mark as it did, because it supports a good cause and certainly serves the greater good. Now if only it had served up more laughs in the process, more actual comic relief…