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Blue Collar Comedy Tour: One for the Road

Three years after the original “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” united Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall, and Ron White, the four stand up comedians gather together for one last show in Washington D.C.’s Warner Theater. The result is rude and at times about as low as redneck humor can get, but always hilariously funny. I usually am a fan of clever stand up comedians. I’m not brilliant enough to get every single Dennis Miller reference, but I’ll take Miller and George Carlin any day over the all too frequent fart jokes that perpetuate too many comedians these days. Every once in a while it’s okay to get a little lowbrow though, and when those times come, these four comedians are the ones to turn to. As each one performs a twenty minute set, the laughs roll on.

Starting off One for the Road is Bill Engvall, best known for his “Here’s your sign” comedy bit, which is noticeably absent from this release. Engvall is the high water mark of the four comedians and almost seems out of place among the other, more accent-laden comedians. That doesn’t mean he isn’t easily their equal with his comedy though, tackling topics about dogs and their eating habits.

Second comes Ron “Tater Salad” White, smoking and drinking his way through his routine as normal. White represents a sleazy underside to the redneck lifestyle that has always appalled me, but even that doesn’t keep me from laughing at his jokes. White may be the most honest of the comedians on the tour; he doesn’t try to hide what he is or put on any character. He presents himself exactly as he is – a middle aged drinking, smoking, overweight fellow. He’s able to laugh at that when he wants to, although later in the movie he gets a bit defensive when others make jokes at his expense.

The Legendary Jeff Foxworthy follows White, also missing his trademark “you might be a redneck” bit. Instead that bit is replaced with redneck fashion tips, starting with a list of “you might want to pay attention if…” quips. It’s odd to see Foxworthy come third in the lineup. Typically concerts build to a peak, so you’d expect to see the man who put redneck humor on the map as the pinnacle of the festivities.

Instead that honor is bestowed on Larry the Cable Guy, the only one of the four comedians who sticks with his catchphrase, “Get ‘er done!” As he jokes less than a minute into his act, he gets a thousand dollars just for coming out and saying that, so who needs any jokes. Larry’s set is probably the weakest of the four, filled with funny moments but lacking the continuous stories the other three comedians use. Larry the Cable Guy tends to use single set punchlines and move on to the next joke instead of building on any sort of foundation. It’s a style that works, but only in single shots, where the other comedians get the chance to build to a peak.

Finally, after each of the four stars have done their set the comedians unite for two group sets at the end. The first consists of telling actual jokes instead of stand up bits. Each of the comedians tell their favorite joke, using each other’s jokes as inspiration for the next one. After several rounds the four move to the final bit of the night, revealing older pictures of themselves which all are free to make fun of. The pictures feature incriminating hairstyles of days gone by or redneck fashions and are easy fodder for the others stinging barbs. Only White tends to take issue with anything being said. That doesn’t stop the others, particularly Larry the Cable Guy, from tossing comments White’s way, adding a little tension to the festivities, but egging Ron White into returning the favor as Larry’s pictures are shown. Blue Collar Comedy Tour: One for the Road is one of those rare DVDs that make me voice an even more rare complaint: it’s in widescreen, and needlessly so. The widescreen visual doesn’t really add anything to the presentation of the movie – it’s stand up comedy after all. All it does is allow the viewer to see a little more of the backdrop at the Warner Theater. It’s a neat backdrop, but not really worth widescreen. The format doesn’t detract from the presentation, but doesn’t really add anything either. It’s just kind of pointless. A separate full screen version is available and, for the first time, I see no advantage widescreen would give to suggest buying one version over another.

As mentioned above, the movie is presented in its entirety without commercial interruption; a really nice departure from the television presentation of the show. On top of the 108 minute comedy, there are also a few brief featurettes included.

“Yankee Doody Dandy” is a short skit that depicts the Blue Collar comedians leaving a flaming bag of dog poo on the White House steps. It features a badly made up George W. Bush that might look like the president if you’re vision is fuzzy and he had lots of plastic surgery. It’s the same type of humor that is carried throughout One for the Road but without that fabulous stand up presentation. Additionally, the skit is carried too far and loses its humor as the president scolds the boys for their stunt.

“Molding the Minds of Young Americans” is probably the best of the extra material on the DVD. The short featurette shows the four comedians at a Q&A session on a college campus. The students egg the comedians into some funny answers and comments, but there’s a real honesty shown here about what the four men do for a living. It’s a tough life, and one that shouldn’t have the lifespan their fortunate careers have had, and they are more than aware of that. It’s neat to see that side of the comedians, if only to see Ron White without a drink in his hand.

Finally, there are two looks behind the scenes. “Blue Collar Fans” features quick interviews with attendees of the Tour, gathering their reactions and answers to silly questions like “which of the comedians would you elect president?” If nothing else, I appreciate that the DVD producers showed restraint and didn’t make fun of the comedians’ fanbase, a task I’m certain wouldn’t have been hard to do. “Behind the Scenes of One for the Road shows the making of the opening credit sequence, as well as “Yankee Doody Dandy” and confirms that the skit runs too long – the added part which drags the sequence to a close was added as an after thought.

One for the Road hits DVD after it’s already aired on cable television, so some of the best laughs have already been revealed. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth picking up however. If anything, the elimination of annoying commercial breaks makes the whole thing flow a lot better, keeping the laughs coming. If nothing else though it’s a comedic pearl that can be revisited every once in a while, after the punchlines have faded, to rekindle laughter the next time a viewer is ready for less sophisticated, but still hilarious, humor.