I can only imagine that the cover for this DVD is deliberately awful. The front cover shot of Jeff Garlin is so unflattering that it must have been selected for purposes of irony as “young” and “handsome” are hardly the first words that spring to mind when looking at it. I’m not saying that Garlin isn’t a handsome man, just that the photo is really quite bad.
Most will be familiar with Garlin through his role as Larry David’s manager Jeff Greene in Curb Your Enthusiasm (which is where I first became aware of him), but his career began as a stand-up, and despite seeing short clips of his stand-up over the years, this is the first time I’ve seen a full length set of his, and what’s presented here is very impressive.
The DVD was recorded in June 2008, as Garlin performed to a sold out crowd at Chicago’s Second City Theatre, where he initially performed early in his career.
It’s a set of two halves, separated by some snippets of material that he was unable to fit in with the stories that formed his set. The first half is perhaps the strongest, made up from consistently funny material that runs for twenty minutes and mainly focuses on married life.
The material that didn’t fit is hit and miss, and wouldn’t have been missed had it been omitted from the DVD, and it’s easy to see why he struggled to work it into the routine.
The second half, whilst not as consistent as the first, is solid and features the highlight of the set, as Garlin recalls an encounter with an elderly gentleman on a flight to the southern states of America. Another one of the routines covered towards the end of the set, which I particularly enjoyed, was on Garlin’s fondness for Krispy Kreme doughnuts, which, for me, was well timed as I was enjoying a few as I was watching, a strange but enjoyable coincidence.
Material largely focuses on married life and the feelings of inadequacy that come with it. It’s hardly groundbreaking stuff, but Garlin’s strength is in his construction and delivery of the material, which is masterful.
He’s an easy-going, natural comic. The delivery never seems forced or in your face, and despite not covering the most groundbreaking of topics, the material never seems derivative. There’s very little here that’s likely to offend, as the subjects covered are fairly tame, and there’s very little profanity.
The only real complaint is that, at 45 minutes, the set runs a little short, and that the flow of the set would have been better without the bit in the middle, but overall the quality of the material makes this well worth a look for fans of Curb Your Enthusiasm and stand-up comedy in general.
In addition to the main set there’s a fifteen minute interview with Jeff Garlin by Bob Odenkirk, who directed the main feature. It focuses on Garlin’s beginnings in comedy and his influences. It’s worth watching as he explains that he was using the same material for some time and that crowds had been reacting well to him early on, but he was advised to listen back to some of his material by one of his mentors in Chicago.
This being the first time he listened to his material, he was horrified to find out that what he had been performing was lowest common denominator material. This made Garlin rework his approach and evolve into the quality stand-up he is today.
There are also two brief deleted scenes that run for approximately a minute each and, whilst being very funny, it’s easy to see why they were cut from the feature as they didn’t seem to fit with the tone of the rest of the set.
Jeff Garlin Young And Handsome is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.