Rodney Dangerfield – No Respect: The Ultimate Collection
Sound: C+ Extras: D Programs: B
Of all the stand-up comedians of the last half of the 20th
Century, there were many good ones, but only rivaled by Lenny Bruce, no one
could outdo Rodney Dangerfield. In his
time, outlasting all of his peers and outdoing new talent two to three times
younger, Dangerfield became the master of self-deprecating humor. The shows over the three DVDs are as
It’s Not Easy Being Me (1981) features
Valerie Perrine spoofing her work in the 1978 Superman and Bill Murray
in several roles, including as Nick The Lounge Singer.
I Can’t Take It Anymore (1983) not
only has Dangerfield doing his wacky hit Rappin’ Rodney as a big
production number, but a Flashdance spoof called Flashpants. Dangerfield was one of the first white
“artists” after Blondie to release a Rap song, and he was still better than
Vanilla Ice. Robert Urich, Angie
Dickinson, Harold Ramis, Donna Dixon and Andy Kaufmann appear, with Kaufmann as
Dangerfield’s legendary Dr. Vinnie Boombaats.
Exposed (1984) offers guest stars Dick Butkus,
Bubby Smith, Harvey Korman and Morgan Fairchild and is the oddest of the three
on DVD 1. This is the least memorable
of the specials, and is the reason Dangerfield went to cable for his next
shows. Fairchild is a better comic
actress than she ever gets credit for and only the recent ad clothing chain
campaign one retailer had featuring her proved that further. They made a big mistake dropping her, as
this special reminds us.
It’s Not Easy Being Me (1986,
different from the first program and the beginning of DVD2: the cable shows) guest
stars Roseanne (when her last name was Barr), Jeff Altman, Sam Kinison, Jerry
Seinfeld, and Robert Townsend. The foul
language and stand-up segments take a giant jump, but some strange skits
remain. Most amazing is the incredible
then-unknown talent Dangerfield hosts on this show, proving his great tastes
and instincts in comedy. With that
said, it is a remarkable show and shows why Dangerfield’s became a club that
lives up to his name.
Nothin’ Goes Right (1987)
features Andrew “Dice” Clay, Carol Leifer, Robert Schimmel and Lenny Clarke
among the new talents who taker the stage.
Clarke’s routine on terrorists is so politically incorrect, but many
will find fascinating to hear today.
This time, the stand up is hit and miss, but it is still a decent show
The Really Big Show (1991) has
Fred Willard helping out to host mostly still-unknowns who are not bad. The “storyline” is that Dangerfield needs
these new comics for his big cable special.
Jamie Farr, Steve Allen, Corbin Bernsen and Mr. T also appear. The standup is better integrated and the few
skits are not as silly as usual, though not masterpieces either.
Opening Night At Rodney’s Place (1989) brings
back Sam Kinison, then adds Rich Little, Heather Thomas, Chuck McCann, Ron
Jeremy, Tim Allen, Jeff Foxworthy and more good-if-not-well-known comics for
another Dangerfield nightclub. This is
the longest show here at 90 minutes and Greg Travis is the funniest new guy
here. There is also an odd send-up of The
Tonight Show with McCann as Ed McMahon and Little as Johnny Carson, and
several segments of an equally odd spoof of Sherlock Holmes.
This Is Your Life (1986) has
Dangerfield interrupted during his stand-up by new host David Frost, with a
taped nod from Chevy Chase, a clip form his early hosting of Saturday Night
Live, Robert Klein in the flesh and more running just over a half-hour.
Tonight Show work features highlights of
about 70 shows he did when Carson hosted.
Note this does not count all the times he appeared when Leno hosted him
in later years. This clip repeats the
clip on Johnny Carson – The Ultimate Collection, but a longer version at
about nine minutes.
Rodney’s Act (1988) is from a personal tape
made at the MGM Grand where Rodney is at his most raw, something none of the
specials capture. It is interesting for
the dissonance it offers, Dangerfield more isolated that usual doing his humor
of loneliness. That he can remember so
many one-liners is unreal, but he was the best. This lasts nearly 50 minutes.
The shows all add up to about seven hours, as each main
show runs about an hour except for the 1989 show and the rest happen to fill
the space left by commercial breaks, et al.
All the footage is 1.33 X 1 professional NTSC tape, though the final
piece is letterboxed to something like 1.8 X 1 and does not have the clearest
image, but is worth seeing. The Dolby
Digital 2.0 is mostly simple stereo, but any monophonic sound is not bad. There are no extras per se, as all the above
are set up as a series of stages of his career, but many of these shows have
been out of circulation for years. Fans
who have them on tape or 12” LaserDisc will be happy with this set, as the
condition of the material is as good as it can get.
Recently, Tony Curtis was talking about his life and
talked about how all people have problems and a dark cloud that always follows
them. Rodney Dangerfield always saw the
silver lining in the darkest of those clouds to get the laughs, and that is why
he is a legend. This set reminds us of
- Nicholas Sheffo