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03.03 Your Show of shows

Riotous ‘Mr. Show’ leaves no medium untouched

If, as the cliché goes, “Laughter is the best medicine,” then Mr. Show may just be the cure for the madness of final exams or any stress that ails you. Check your local video emporium, bookstore or library for title availability.

Mr. Show – Seasons 1 & 2 (DVD)

The same Boston comedy scene of the early ’90’s that spawned Worcester’s Denis Leary and bad boy Joe Rogan of “NewsRadio” and “Fear Factor” also produced David Cross, one half of the unconventional duo known as Mr. Show. With former “SNL” writer Bob Odenkirk, with whom Cross had worked on the Emmy-winning but very short-lived “The Ben Stiller Show” in 1992, the pair put together a live act, and by 1995, was ready to hit the airwaves. The show, which ran a respectable four seasons on HBO, featured some of the most innovative and daring sketch pieces since Monty Python (okay, since Kids in the Hall, at least.)

This 2-disc set features every episode from the first two seasons, including “The New KKK”, which features black men in white robes frolicking to a catchy new jingle, and “Jeepers Creepers: Semi-Star”, a brilliantly staged slacker musical featuring Jack Black of Shallow Hal and Tenacious D infamy.

Not releasing all four seasons at once will leave fans both new and old wanting more, though this first batch, which features of some of the smartest writing in decades, is packed with delights that are not always caught the first time out, making it ripe for repeat viewings. (Fans who still lament the untimely passing of “The Ben Stiller Show”, rejoice – Warner Brothers is releasing all 12 episodes, plus the unaired 13th episode, on DVD this spring.)

Mr. Show – What Happened?!

Before Naomi Odenkirk, wife of Mr. Show’s straight-laced half, Bob, set out to produce his directorial debut, Melvin Goes To Dinner, she compiled this incredibly comprehensive account of the renegade duo’s origins and rise to prominence. With the exception of the unreleased Mr. Show movie and bootlegger’s favorite, Run Ronnie Run, she leaves no stone unturned, detailing not only the circumstances that led up to the convergence of Bob and David, but itemizing each sketch of each episode with obsessive relish, meticulous care for which fans will surely be grateful.

While other writers might have just focused on the two stars of the show, Ms. Odenkirk wisely pays tribute to the thankless cadre that made up the supporting cast and writing team, as well, many of whom still work with Bob and David. For more on Mr. Show (and the ongoing Run Ronnie Run debacle), point your browser toward www.bobanddavid.com.

David Cross – Shut Up, You Fucking Baby! (CD)

Part of the reason that ’60’s counterculture icon Lenny Bruce is remembered is because he not only shattered taboos, but also challenged his audience to reexamine why certain subjects were so off-limits in the first place. This double-disc release from Mr. Show’s David Cross illustrates why he, too, may be remembered in much the same way. Cross, who presently narrates Fox’s new “Wonder Years” wannabe, “Oliver Beene”, unleashes his personal brand of sarcastic wit, unapologetically riffing on subjects such as the Catholic Church (suggesting that God molests children by proxy) and 9/11 (noting that George Bush was the same idiot he was on 9/10). The angry yet thoughtful timbre with which Cross delivers his material is more like that of a spoken word performance artist like Jello Biafra or Henry Rollins and less like shtick-dependent stand-up. It may prove too confrontational for some, though Cross himself will be the first one to tell you that while safe and toothless may get you on Leno, it probably won’t get you remembered. This enhanced CD features an extended Quicktime trailer of the upcoming live DVD.