Monday, December 27, 2010

One A Week Reviews #51: Robert Klein: Unfair & Unbalanced

HBO celebrated their 35th year of comedy specials by bringing back the man who started it all. Here's my review for

Robert Klein: Unfair & Unbalanced

Official Synopsis

Comedy Legend, Award-Winning Actor, Improvisational Master, Bluesman Extraordinaire, Robert Klein made hilarious history with the first-ever HBO stand-up special. Now, Klein returns for his ninth stand-up special, an hour of uproarious new takes on society's foibles and follies, plus several memorable music interludes backed by a symphony orchestra. From philandering congressmen, hypocrisy in Washington, pop culture obsessions and job outsourcing, to comedic musical numbers about Barack Obama, medical marijuana, gay marriage, and why he can't stop his leg, Klein grapples with the truly important issues as only he can – with trademark insight and timeless humor.

Our Take

Robert Klein is an elder statesman of stand-up comedy, and in Unfair & Unbalanced he presents nearly a full hour of witty music and wry observations, 35 years after his first HBO special. I personally don't remember when I last saw his stand-up and know him more as an actor. The show's open, a musical number about President Obama, seemed to really be there just to rehash old Clinton jokes didn't bode well at the outset. There's lots of reheated political humor here, less “up-to-date” than “greatest hits” of the last two years. David Vitter, Larry Craig, Eliot Spitzer, all these sacred cows got ground to burger long ago. Jokes about The Sopranos and Judge Judy also are, to be generous, dated. Adult jokes fall a little flat but have a good-natured spirit that makes them enjoyably inoffensive. Observations about aging come off oddly curmudgeonly, and don't quite work coming from a man as vital and energetic as Klein. You're not a “geezer” at 68 anymore. Klein also fancies himself a song and dance man, with a cute pair of songs about medical marijuana and gay marriage.

All in all, this is a pleasant diversion filled with easy laughs. Time well spent with an expert of comedy.

Special Features

The special is presented in widescreen with Dolby 5.1 audio, but there are no extras and no frills. What this disc should have is his first HBO special from 1975 as the obvious bookend.


While perhaps a bit mellowed with age, Robert Klein brings as still-acidic outlook to urrent events, vulgarity, and aging. With George Carlin gone, he inherits HBO's crown for stand-up king and takes it in a more “Borscht Belt” direction. A must for his fans and a great introduction to those unfamiliar with his stand-up comedy. Nothing cutting edge here, but Unfair & Unbalanced is a light hour of easy entertainment.

Overall Picture
Movie: B-
Extras: D-

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