DVD Review: “Stella: Live in Boston”
“Stella: Live in Boston” holds so much promise thanks to the distinctive styles of its constituent parts: Michael Showalter, David Wain and Michael Ian Black. Showalter comes on like a bundle of maladjustment and irritation, Black is a master of snide and snark, and Wain is the anti-comedic center. “Live in Boston” only reaches the heights of the trio’s Comedy Central series when this concert video, shot at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre in 2008, cuts to a gut-busting pre-taped skit about Showalter’s misbegotten birthday party. Other than that, “Live in Boston” is all warm-up, and that might be the point.
Ever since “The State,” the genre-defying MTV sketch comedy series starring Black, Showalter and Wain in the mid-’90s, these comedians have always gone for the slow-burn laughs — the comedy that stems more from behavior than jokes. In “Live in Boston,” much of the routine involves tricking the various members into joining along on road-to-nowhere skits, dance routines and comedic schemes. Every member falls for it, everyone is insulted to within an inch of their egos, and “Live in Boston” feels more like hilarious performance art — it takes a significant understanding of Stella’s rhythms to get the joke.
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