The Next GenerationThe most oddly telling moments on this DVD – which marks the introduction of a “next generation” of Blue Collar comedians - are the exchanges contained within a 15 minute segment in the bonus features where host Bill Engvall sits with his proteges after their show and tells them (only half-jokingly) that really no matter what they do they’re not the original Blue Collar quartet. Saying something along the lines of “If people paid to see The Eagles, and The Eagles 2 come out on stage, it’s just not the same,” Engvall’s attempt at humor and exaggerated pride, is unfortunately pretty spot-on. His comment highlights the problems in trying to further a brand name (Blue Collar Comedy) when the real brand is the original group of comedians that made the name famous in the first place.

It’s not that these four new guys (Reno Collier, Juston McKinney, John Caparulo and Jamie Kaler) aren’t funny, it’s just that they aren’t the originals. And having Bill Engvall serve as some sort of host, performing relatively stilted intro and outro segments only drives the reality home that a “next generation” of Blue Collar Comedy is like the “Joey” spinoff from “Friends.” Alan Jackson might argue that “too much of a good thing is a good thing,” but sometimes it’s just overkill. It’s almost worse that these four comedians are all earnestly driven and unarguably talented in their own right. If they had joined together under a separate banner to tour perhaps their 50 collective minutes of stand-up included on this DVD wouldn’t feel so forced.

The show opens with Jamie Kaler (from the TBS series My Boys) riffing on The Discovery Channel, black eyes, and other relatively safe material. He seems comfortable on stage, but many of his jokes don’t hit home the way they were intended to and this hurts the watchability a bit. Juston McKinny comes on next with some solid material, but a slightly whiny presentation that can be slightly grating despite several great punchlines. John Caparulo (of Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Tour) is the best of the bunch – though not the final act for some reason – and his nasally voice and irritated style, he seems the most equipped comedian, delivering constantly in the joke department and even earning a standing ovation (the show’s only one) at the end of his set). Reno Collier finishes the show, and though he’s not half bad, it’s clear that his gigs opening for Larry the Cable Guy have effected his sense of humor in a negative fashion. His jokes are promising but occasionally feel a little forced, even bad enough for him to comment “that was  stupid one” after an especially forced joke. But he’s got the energy and excited aura of a five-year old so he’s easy to watch and you root for him to succeed even as you find yourself not laughing.

The bonus features are decent, especially considering that the feature is only 50 minutes long. There are six minute interviews with each of the comedians where they recount they’re childhood, their early performances, and how they feel about being under the Blue Collar banner. It’s relatively candid stuff and a welcome addition to the DVD. The bottom line here is, don’t go looking for comedy gold… don’t even go looking for on-again-off-again humorists like the original Blue Collar quartet. This new group would be a welcome sighting at a local comedy club, but there are no acts that I’d want to record and keep in my personal comedy collection.

Zach’s Rating: C
Perfect for: Anyone who doesn’t have access to a local comedy club
Stay Away if: You’re looking for the original Blue Collar group
Watch For: The unmistakable irony in Reno Collier riffing on metrosexuals minutes before Bill Engvall walks out with a perfectly trimmed beard, stylishly worn jeans and an unexplainably limp wrist… sometimes the best comedy is unintentional

To purchase Blue Collar Comedy: The Next Generation, visit Amazon

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