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DVD Review: Adam Ferrara is Funny As Hell

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If you live in Los Angeles and you like to see cheap comedy, more than likely you’re spending your time and money in the ‘alternative comedy’ scene, for better or worse. Now, I’ll be the first to promote the benefits of lesser known comedians in more intimate venues, but every once in a while it’s nice to take a step back towards more mainstream comedy, just to retest the waters and see if you really still find the same things funny. Enter Adam Ferrara. As a stand up comic, Ferrara has been around for years, honing his craft on stage in front of larger and larger audiences and, as of late, working on the the FX show Rescue Me. On June 12th, Ferrara will be taking a slice of airtime on Comedy Central to show his new stand up special, Funny As Hell.

At first glance, Ferrara is the pseudo-doppelgänger of Mike Myers (with a splash of Freddie Prinze, Jr.), and many of his mannerisms are the same. However, Ferrara is a much more polished stand up comedian, with seamless transitions from bit to bit. His voice is consistently conversational and engaging, like a funny friend telling you a story over a beer. The downside to this relaxed demeanor, however, is the chuckles Ferrara gives himself throughout the set, like any comedy novice would do. It’s fine for your friends to giggle through a retelling of a hilarious moment, but there’s something cheap to hearing comics laugh at their own material that has been fire-tested for months before making it onto a DVD.

For the most part, the material is pretty standard fare; girls are crazy, what’s-the-deal-with-my-family, and ‘I’m a piece of shit’ rest pretty high on the list of tackled topics. And while there are some new and genuinely funny reflections on what it means to go to couples counseling or the trials of being in an inter-religious relationship, the topics have been worn pretty thin by years of previous comic observations. Maybe this is why so many comedy aficionados find themselves pulling towards the more alternative comics: they don’t feel the need to run over the same roadkill routines, no matter the new twist they may feel they have on it.

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That’s not to say that Adam Ferrara isn’t funny; in fact quite the opposite. The audience genuinely responds positively to the well-crafted punchlines or quick characterizations he gives to bits here and there. And in a DVD-only outtake segment that involves Ferrara interacting with a sound guy, his honest reactions and jokes are on point and indicative of a truly funny person. But where the DVD really shines is right in the middle of the set, when the topics break from the standard comic fare and start to tackle some tough stuff, such as the cancer of his father. As the mood becomes more serious and the tension more palpable, the special almost takes on a one-man show feel, to great success. Then, when the bits get punctuated by true, honest observations, the payoff is so real and organic you have laugh out loud. This; this is what comedy is about.

It’s refreshing to see someone like Adam Ferrara stand in the spotlight and deliver 60 minutes of straight stand up that falls across the wide spectrum of connoisseurs, from the small towners who like to hear gratuitous use of the word ‘fuck’ to full blown comedy snobs who need real honesty to shine through in the work. Ferrara, in this snob’s opinion, would do well to incorporate more of the honesty in his full set, but you’d be hardpressed to deny that - no matter where you fall on chart - there are definitely times when he is Funny As Hell.

Adam Ferrara's special Funny As Hell will air June 12th. Pre-sale for the DVD is available now.