Stella, the cheerfully dorky, suit wearing comedy trio of Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter and David Wain, are an offshoot of the former MTV comedy group The State. They have been performing in various mediums for the past decade, including short films and a short-lived Comedy Central series.
The troupe has also earned a cult following for their irreverent stage show, a show which was captured, and placed onto a digital video disc (DVD) entitled “Stella: Live in Boston” which hit stores this week. Is it worth your time?
I must confess I was only vaguely familiar with Stella before viewing this DVD. I had seen a few of their shorts, but had never viewed either their stage or television show. Black, Showalter and Wain’s style of comedy certainly is an acquired taste, and I feel I may have gotten more enjoyment from the DVD had I further familiarized myself with their work going in. However, that isn’t to say I didn’t find a lot to like about “Live in Boston.” That isn’t the case at all.
Writing an in-depth review of Stella’s stage show is a rather difficult task, as it doesn’t so much play as a comedy show, but rather an hour-long conversation between three petty, bickering doofuses. I don’t even feel remotely compelled to describe any of the jokes because I don’t suspect they would read funny at all (which says a lot, as I am an immensely skilled humorist behind the keyboard). All of the laughs come directly from the way the performers delivery their lines.
And ultimately, it’s the delivery that makes this DVD worth viewing. The comedy in this show is the kind that depends entirely on the performers’ ability to pull it off with a strait face. If Black, Showalter and Wain gave even the slightest inkling that their stage characters were in on the joke, the whole show would likely crumble to pieces.
Luckily, all the members are very good at what they do, and it creates a show that consistently generates laughs. Hell, even some of the bits that aren’t funny get smiles due to the earnestness delivery. There’s and endearing, child like innocence to everything, including a bit when Black yells at an audience member for being “a fucking idiot.”
I very much liked “Live in Boston,” but as a Stella newbie, I sort of feel like I’m missing something that prevents me from all out loving it. However, this DVD very much peaked my interest in the group, and I fully intend to take a greater look at their catalog of material (the lone season of their Comedy Central show, simply titled Stella, is at the top of my Netflix Queue as we speak.)
If you are new and need a more thorough explanation, I’d say an apt description of Stella would be that it’s sort of like Flight of the Conchords with less music (the show does end with a rap number). If you are already an established fan, it’s hard to think there is anything on this disc you will find disappointing. And even if you’re not already a fan, it’s worth checking out if you enjoy well executed humor that manages to be smart and dumb simultaneously.
- Performers are very likeable and have very good stage chemistry
- Won’t appeal to people who don’t like dorky humor
Final Score: 7.7/10 (could possibly increase by a fraction of a point or two.)
Stella:Live in Boston was released on DVD Tuesday, but I have a feeling it won’t be easy to find. If you are wealthy enough to have Netflix (like me), you can stream it to your computer from there. If this option is readily available to you, I say take it.