E-mail buddy Cory Strode writes:
I was a huge [Dennis] Miller fan, and love most of what he does, but this year the show just hasn't been as good as in year's past.
He's lost that sharp edge and was really harping on older topics...it's time to let O.J., Bill Clinton and the like go.
Sadly, the last two times I saw him perform here in Minneapolis (a year apart) he did pretty much the same stand-up...you have talked
in columns past about how comedians have a "solid 45" of old material they know works and use it if they feel the act not doing as well as they would
like. Sadly, Miller did his solid 45 with very few variations, which is bad for a comedian who is best known for his quick wit and topical
I pretty much agree with the above. Dennis Miller has no greater admirer than Yours Truly. He genuinely brought a fresh,
witty approach to stand-up at a time when too many guys were up there asking, "What's the deal with these people who work at 7-Eleven stores?"
I've had people tell me Dennis Miller jokes without identifying the source and I said, "That sounds like something Dennis Miller would come up
with." How many other comics of his generation have a distinctive style not just of delivery but of writing?
But I agree, that style does not lend itself to much repetition. I could (and did) hear Sam Kinison do the bit about world hunger
a dozen times and always enjoy it...but when Miller repeats something, it just sounds like old material. I saw him live only once. It was
at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas with Rita Rudner as his opening act. This is maybe seven years ago. She was very funny but when Mr. Miller
took stage, the show was darn near over. He didn't do one line that I hadn't heard from him before and, even if I hadn't known the jokes, most
of them were about "current events" that had long since been retired as topics from most other comics' acts. Worse, he did the whole set with
an attitude that suggested he had the limo double-parked and couldn't wait to get his check and get the hell outta there. I felt like yelling
back to the stage, "Hey, Cha-Cha! We didn't fork over half a C-note apiece for the ducats to see some clown whose energy level makes Perry Como
look like Roberto Benigni on crack."
Still, you know what? I like him so much, I was willing to write that one off as a bad night.
I'll even forgive him his last month or three of Dennis Miller Live, which have not been up to standard, making one suspect he
knew the end was nigh. There was a lot of crankiness there without a punch line attached. Except when he's really, really liked his
guest, he's been acting like the limo is triple-parked and blocking oncoming traffic...
And I still like the guy. I'll miss that show and would love to see it land somewhere else because, when he was enjoying
it, so was I...and I think it was the perfect vehicle for him. Even if that show doesn't survive in some format, I'm sure he'll turn up in
something else and be terrific in it. At least, until he loses interest...