The Complete Denis Leary Live
No Cure For Cancer and Lock 'n' Load

Starring: Denis Leary
Fabulous Films & Fremantle Home Entertainment
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 18
Available 18 September 2006

American comedian Denis Leary performs his famous one-man stand-up act attacking, among other things, non-smokers, rehab programs, and vegetarians...

The Complete Denis Leary Live consists of two live shows: No Cure For Cancer (1993) and Lock 'n Load (1997). I have to admit to never having seen Denis Leary's act before - sure I knew about him and what to expect, but I'd never seen either of these two shows before. And to be honest I can't say that my life is enriched at all for having finally seen them.

In No Cure For Cancer Leary's way of getting the attention of his audience - of getting his message across - is to shout really loud and brag about what drugs he's taken or is still taking. That sounds like your typical teenager to me - not the way that a grown man gets laughs. For the majority of the act I sat there mystified as to how this gig had been so well received at the time - he just came across as incredibly immature and not very funny.

To be honest there are only a handful of belly laughs to be had in the first half of the show. These include his observations about the pointless warnings on cigarette packets - it's not going to stop smokers from smoking one bit; and his gag about John Lennon dying after having six bullets shot in his chest while Yoko Ono, who was stood next to him, didn't even get hit by one! Why?!!?

It's actually only when he moves on to his family that his gags start to hit home. His stories about his father and his DIY panelling are very amusing, as are his observations of men not being allowed to cry.

However, by far the biggest problem with No Cure For Cancer (ignoring the fact that over 50% of it is just not very funny) is the quality of the recording. Not only is the picture close to unwatchable in places, but the sound constantly slips out of synch with Leary's actual lip movements.

There is also some question over how much of the material was actually written by Leary and wasn't 'stolen' from his old friend comedian Bill Hicks. After hearing No Cure For Cancer, Hicks and Leary fell out with Hicks claiming that some of the material had been 'lifted' from his 1989 act Sane Man.

There is a noticeable shift in his act in the four years between both shows. It's very odd to see, in Lock 'N Load, how an act that relied on anger suddenly mellows into one where Leary is not angry with the world any more, just confused. It could be that being a father has mellowed him out somewhat, but his smoking and drinking seems to have been cut down dramatically. And he no longer brags about drug taking or other illegal activities. In fact the only thing that is remotely drug related is his rant about coffee.

Again, his family provide the material for a large junk of the act - especially his two young kids. I couldn't really work out what all the religious backdrop was all about though. There is a slight religious slant to some of his material, but not enough for the backdrops to make any real sense.

Extras include a Behind the Scenes style Making of featurette (8 mins) and the A**hole music video (7 mins) for No Cure For Cancer. For Lock 'n Load we get Love Barge music video (3.30 mins).

In all honesty this is pretty mediocre stuff and hasn't aged well at all. It's only really worth buying if you are a real Leary fan.

Darren Rea

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