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Larry Miller has made his reputation with a series of brilliantly done
character parts in movies such as "Pretty Woman", but his stand-up act
is also something to see. This HBO special, filmed on stage in front of
a live audience, is possibly the drollest, funniest stand-up set I have
seen since the prime of Bill Cosby.
Miller is one of those comedians (like Rita Rudner) who can express more dismay and bemusement with a shrug of the shoulders and a roll of the eyes than someone like Martin Lawrence or Eddie Murphy can with a 30 second string of obscenities and an act of simulated sodomy on stage. Nothing against Lawrence or Murphy - that's just their style, and they don't do "droll" - but it's refreshing to see a comedian put his material over so smoothly without ever raising his voice or using a four letter word.
Anyway, the heart of this act is an extended description of a disastrous first attempt at skiing - it goes on for at least forty minutes, and never lags or bores. To make the Cosby comparison again, it's on a level with Cosby's famous "To Russell, My Brother Whom I Slept With". Similar to that all time classic 28 minute routine I was both exhausted with laughter and begging for mercy by the time Miller pulled into the final stretch. I was hoping it would never end, while acknowledging that all good things must end sometime.
Any fan or connoisseur of stand-up comedy ought to track down "Just Words". It will be worth any reasonable amount of effort of expense. You'll be glad you did.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I loved Larry Miller in "Pretty Woman", "Best in Show", "A Mighty Wind" et al, but this was the first time I'd seen his stand-up work. I found it to be hilarious and refreshingly clean. His take on the differences between the sexes is dead on, & the segment on his skiing trip is a riot. His comedy reminds me of the classic work of guys like Milton Berle, not loaded down with shock value, just very funny, well thought out observations (this was an HBO special shot at a theatre in St. Paul; the copyright said it was from 1992, but the special is listed as 2001 here, so who knows...). If you're a fan of good stand-up & have a chance, check this out.
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