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Jake Johannsen: I Love You

Posted by martinteller on June 2, 2012

I was going to start this by mentioning that Johannsen is one of my favorite comedians.  But since it’s kind of hard to write about stand-up, I thought I’d flesh out the review a little by actually making that list.  Lists are fun, right?  I love doing them.  So, here we go, my top 10 comedians:

1. Paul F. Tompkins
2. Louis CK
3. Todd Barry
4. Patton Oswalt
5. Jake Johannsen
6. Dana Gould
7. Maria Bamford
8. Andy Kindler
9. Mitch Hedberg
10. David Cross

With honorable mentions for Brian Regan, Dave Attell, Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, Jimmy Pardo, Paula Poundstone and Tig Notaro.  The ranking is somewhat arbitrary (as it usually is) but I think that gives a pretty good overview of my comedic tastes (note that is based on stand-up only, not acting or podcasting or anything else).  I notice that for the most part, there’s an “alternative” bent to my top 10, but Johannsen is a pretty straightforward joke-joke-joke comic.  He doesn’t go on crazy tangents, take a lot of chances, or discuss many taboo topics.  In this special, he covers rather standard material like taxes, marriage, kids, the economy, health care, and so forth.  But his delivery is so enjoyable, he has a great, classic comedy voice with terrific timing and inflection.  I wouldn’t say this material is quite as strong as This’ll Take About An Hour, the special that introduced me to Jake way back when, but nothing stands out as a clunker and there’s some good laugh-out-loud bits.  Comedically, I have no problem with it.

The presentation, however, leaves something to be desired.  I looked up the director, who has the questionable name of Emery Emery, and discovered it’s the same guy who edited The Aristocrats.  Also known as the most horribly edited documentary I’ve ever seen.  His ADD style is unfortunately all over this production as well, wildly cutting between angles with no rhyme or reason, using ridiculous camera movement to swoop in for a zoom.  It’s like the guy has no idea whatsoever how to respect the material, he just thinks the more buttons he pushes at the editing table, the better the end results.  It’s really disorienting.  Also, the backdrop is a giant reproduction/knock-off of Van Gogh’s “Wheat Field Under Threatening Skies”… a lovely painting, but incredibly loud and distracting for a comedy special.  And while I’m criticizing the look of it, Jake’s jacket is really weird too.  Giant lapels, big buttons and pockets, looks like polyester and doesn’t seem to fit him well.  I don’t want to knock Johannsen, I would assume this is his preferred wardrobe for performing, but it just looks odd on him.

The special comes in a CD/DVD combo (making it rather more expensive than the usual stand-up DVD) and maybe it would be better to just listen to the CD.  But then you’d miss a lot of Jake’s gestures and body language and facial expressions.  I still recommend it as a funny set, it’s just too bad there wasn’t more thought put it into its visual qualities.  Rating: Good


2 Responses to “Jake Johannsen: I Love You”

  1. JC said

    Is this a George Carlin memorial list? I’m curious why he’s missing.

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