Big Gay Sketch Show: The Complete Unrated First Season
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (2nd June 2008).
The Film

Television shows like 'All in the Family' and later 'Kids in the Hall' pushed the limits of what was allowed on television. 'All in the Family', for example, was the first show in which you heard the toilet flush. 'Kids in the Hall', on its part, had the group portraying gay characters sitting on a stoup, talking about whoever they slept with. These characters were pretty caricatured, but at least it showed the homosexual culture on television. Though tolerance and acceptance isn't what it probably should be, the homosexual community has now become so accepted as to have their own channel, and their own shows.

Dramas like 'Queer as Folk' and 'The L-Word' show (ahem) 'real' gays and lesbians living their lives. 'Ellen' and 'Will & Grace' took care of comedies. Now, 'The Big Gay Sketch Show' fills the sketch show gap, and does so pretty well. For those who don't know the show (and who'll catch the admittedly obscure reference), it reminds me of 'Comedy Inc.' but only with gays and lesbians. The fun of 'Comedy Inc.' was seeing the performers improv and try to make each other laugh. 'The Big Gay Sketch Show' either has a more defined script, or has performers who can keep a straight face (but my vote goes for the former). Every sketch is set in front of a studio audience with very minimal sets and projected background. It's a bare-bones affair, meaning the focus is the performers and the jokes.

The jokes in each sketch aren't the most original. For example, in Episode 4, there's a news alert about a bear being in someone's back yard. Now, with the title having both 'big' and 'gay' in it, you can guess the kind of bear you'll find in that back yard. Some jokes are pretty funny, though, I have to admit. Episode 5's first sketch has a committee trying to find a new word for 'homosexuality' because, according to research, the public has a negative view of the word. One of the committee members doesn't quite understand what they're supposed to do and comes up with some hilarious suggestions. Some of them can't be written down given their vulgarity, but they really made me laugh (though I can't help myself from wirting 'Homofudgepackery').

That particular sketch is the funniest in the whole season. Every show has to find its groove. 'Mad TV' and 'The Simpsons' took a couple of years, and I'm sure 'The Big Gay Sketch Show' will only get better (though for every 'Mad TV', there's a 'SheTV' right behind it). A lot (a lot) of the humour is based on stereotypes ('Airport Check-in Desk' in Episode 3, the aforementioned 'Breaking News' in Episode 4, for example), but the show also manages to poke fun at Naomi Campbell, Rachel Ray and 'America’s Next Top Model' among others.

The performers are funny, though definitely play on their sexual orientation. Overall, it's a fun show and it'll be fun to see it evolve. It's not as biting or shocking as 'Kids in the Hall', but then again, a lot has happened since 1988. For the most part, I enjoyed the sketches, though I don't know if I'd find the time to watch the show on television. I'll watch the second season and see how that turns out before deciding if I'd recommend it to more people.

The entire first season finds itself on the first disc. Here's a breakdown of the episodes, with the sketches you'll find in them.

Episode 1 (21:46)
The Facts of Life, Ballet Class, Lesbian Speed Dating, Chicago-Style Yoga, Logo Life Tips – Reading, Christmas Morning with Fitzwilliam

Episode 2 (21:43)
All in the Family, Lesbian Sex Line, Talking to a Waiter, Afromation, Waiting at the Stylist's, Afromation 2, Songs – War, Afromation 3

Episode 3 (21:48)
At the Airport Check-in Desk, Gay Werewolf, Logo Life Tips 2 - Glitter, Rachel Ray $40 a Day, 80s Flashback, Naomi Campbell PSA, Logo Life Tips 3 – Rock Garden

Episode 4 (21:43)
Pocket Gay Friend, Breaking News - Bear, Logo Life Tips 4 – Ice, When I Knew, Bravo – Political Project Runway, When I Knew 2, The Honeymooners, When I Knew 3, Walmart Greeter, When I Knew 4

Episode 5 (21:44)
Market Research – Gayness in America, Action 6 Special Bulletin, Tranny 911, Action 6 Weather Bulletin 2, Songs – Religion Interence, Girls Gone Wilde, Supermarket Line, Logo Life Tips – Origami, Action 6 Weather Bulletin 3, Taxi Ride

Episode 6 (22:27)
America's Next Top Model, Gay Werewolf 2, Mantique Shop, America's Next Top Model 2, American Girl Place with Fitzwilliam, Olivia Lesbian Cruise, America's Next Top Model 3, God's Bachelor Homosexual Education Reel, America's Next Top Model 4

Video

1.33:1 full screen. This is full frame and the picture likes very nice for tube viewing. The colours pop nicely when they have to, and the contrast is good enough. The sharpness and level of detail are acceptable and shouldn't engender any ill will from fans of the show. It's a decent transfer, though I would suggest not watching this on a very big display.

Audio

The show only comes in English Dolby Digital 2.0. It's a decent and adequate track. There are no problems understanding any of the jokes and the dialogue. That's basically all I can say, because there’s nothing really else to the show.
There are no subtitles.

Extras

Paramount added a nice amount of extra features to this set. All of them are on disc 2, save for a coupe of Start-up Trailers before the main menu of disc 1, 'Rick & Steve' and 'Noah's Arc' (2:51).

Disc two has a few sections.

The Big Gay Bonus Sketches only has 3 extra sketches, though I'm sure there are at least a few dozen still on the cutting room floor. 'I Can't Believe It's Not the Body & Blood of Christ' (1:46), 'Cruising 101: "The Look Back"' (1:19) and 'Mary Hart Through the Ages' (2:36) are found, and they're probably better not in the episodes. They seem like starter sketches, like the writers came up with these to practice.

The Big Gay Interviews are very nice interviews in which the performers talk about how they got caught up to do the show and how, if applicable, they came out to their parents. Some of the stories are pretty funny and worth listening to. You can listen to: 'Amanda Bearse on Directing' (1:54), 'Dion Flynn or Abe Lincoln?' (2:43), 'Erica Ash Gets Dirty' (3:16), 'Jonny McGovern Does It in Drag' (2:48)', 'Julie Goldman's Big Gay Experience' (1:35), 'Kate McKinnon Out Loud and Proud' (2:06), 'Michael Serrato, Queen of Sketch' (3:00), 'Nicol Paone on OCD and Bad Habits' (1:59) and 'Stephen Guarion, Teacher's Pet' (2:29).

Julie Goldman's Celesbian Interviews are somewhat mock interviews with some stars. There's 'Alexandra Hedison on Making Out' (3:51), 'Curl Girls Professional Lesbians' (3:14) (another show on Logo), 'Jenny Shimizu on Coke, Nicknames' (3:42), 'Lisa Koch on Bitches and Holes' (4:39) and 'Michelle Paradise's Star Power' (4:16). Some of these have funny jokes, but this is mostly pretty dry.

Behind the Big Gay Scenes shows you a Dressing Room Tour (1:52), some Backstage Antics (1:29), a few funny Big Gay Bloopers (2:07), the Making of "Fitzwilliam" (2:17) and a Pre-Show Backstage Exclusive (1:13). These are nice and shows the tremendous amount of fun the group has on set.

More Big Gay Stuff has 'Jonny McGovern & Team Pimp – The Gayest Super Group in the World' (3:38) is, I think, an Internet video, 'Jonny McGovern "Something for the Fellas"' (4:59), which is pretty funny, 'Open Mic: Julie Goldman' (3:11), with isn't so funny and 'How to Get More Gay!' (0:32), which is nothing more than an ad for Logo's website.

Overall

The Film: B- Video: B- Audio: B- Extras: B- Overall: B-

 


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