Zach Galifianakis ‘live’ DVD turns out to be anything but
for a fan of “alternative” comedian Zach Galifianakis, his new DVD,
“Live at the Purple Onion,” due in stores March 6, will prove to be a
Director and editor Michael Blieden muddles the simple assignment of
this comedy performance documentary by keeping in too many passages
where Zach is riffing with audiences, and not doing so very compellingly
because it just isn’t his strong suit. It’s surprising, considering
Blieden’s direction of the cult favorite film “Melvin Goes To Dinner”
with Bob Oedenkirk was so masterful, and perfectly modulated the story
to its climactic surprise.
But here, Blieden captures Zach’s comedic genius only in scattershot
fashion, seemingly only arbitrarily luckily including the better pieces
of Zach’s material. This becomes all the more evident when one finds
better bits in the extras portion of the DVD.
One portion of “Live at the Purple Onion” finds Zach picking on a staid
older audience member sitting in the front row of tables at the show.
Zach repeatedly returns to the refrain of people like him and other
things “messing up the DVD.” At one point in the “bonus features,” Zach
jokes about putting out a DVD with 10 minutes of his act and three hours
of bonus features, and that isn’t too far off what this DVD is,
It’s not that Zach can’t deliver a focused performance from start to
finish either. This reviewer has seen him do it, not just in a club like
on this DVD, but in a large hall no less. But considering the liner
notes of this DVD say the performance here was filmed during shows in
June 2005, and this is being released more than a year later, it seems
like Blieden and company had too much extra time to play with the
material, and a result chopped it up (with other “behind the scenes”
segments as well) to the point that it doesn’t serve Galifianakis well
Zach’s act depends on the succession of deadpan thoughts he delivers,
often while noodling on a piano to give it a confessional or beatnik
poet type of atmosphere. Instead of living up to its title and
presenting a live document of this, “Purple Onion” disappoints by doing
the exact opposite.