Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars/Creators: Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, David
Audio: Dolby Surround
Video: Full Screen 1.33:1
Features: See Review
Length: 215 Minutes
Release Date: September 12, 2006
“What about Madonna? I mean, is she like a virgin, or is she the material girl? I mean, this girl's had more re-inventions than Thomas Edison.”
“I know! She's had more boyfriends than Madonna!”
Stella can be best summed up as the most demented sketch comedy shows I’ve ever seen. But because the creative team behind the show are pros at such sketch antics, and they are three funny guys, Stella is also one of the funniest sketch comedy shows in quite sometime.
Chances are if you’re familiar at all with the early works of stars Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter and David Wain, then you were probably a fan of their funny MTV series The State which ran from 1993 to 95. That series featured comedy sketches that are very much in the vein of this new show. None of the sketches on The State had much of a point to them, just an excuse to cause endless chuckles. I vaguely remember a spoof I saw of MTV Sports on that show that had me rolling on the floor.
Black, Showalter and Wain, who also collaborated on the 2001 low-budget comedy, Wet Hot American Summer, have returned to their comedy roots with a comedy sketch scenario which can best be described as “sketch comedy dressed in a suit”. The three guys play essentially themselves in a series of sketches involving their fictionalized creations of themselves; three roommates who are always dressed in business suits.
The appeal of this show is in how spontaneous the wacky humor is. In their scenes together, Black, Showalter and Wain are clearly having a blast acting out the sketches they created, and they certainly don’t care how stupid they make themselves out to be. If anything, the quote mentioned above should indicate the kind of humor the show’s going for.
Either you go with it or you won’t. Fortunately for me…I went with it.
And underneath its bizarrely funny qualities, Stella is smart and original. These guys know how to get a laugh the right way. They don’t point out every laugh, but rather just throw them out and the right viewer will laugh out loud. Those not used to this style might be scratching their heads, but again this is what makes Stella a unique comedy series.
So if it’s low brow sketch comedy that happens to be your cup of tea, then Season One of Stella is certain to get your funny bone tickled immensely. Put on a visibly fake mustache and enjoy!
Bonus: Several stars makes surprise appearances in a couple of episodes, among them Edward Norton, Sam Rockwell and Paul Rudd.
The series is presented in its original Full Screen format, and the picture quality is as good as a simple presentation like this can get. Colors are nice and vibrant and the image itself is as clear and detailed as can be. No noticeable blemishes.
The 2.0 mix accompanies this show quite well. Dialogue delivery and music playback are both handled incredibly well.
This Season One Package from Paramount and Comedy Central delivers some truly nice extras, starting with the documentary “The History of Stella”, where the stars/creators sit and elaborate on how the series came to be while riffing on each other at the same time…quite funny. Also included are Deleted Scenes, a Blooper reel, Audio Commentary on each of the 10 episodes, a Stella short film from 2002 and a few Comedy Central Quickies.
Stella is comedy designed for a specific audience, of which I’m a proud member of. I find it to be a most clever and insanely funny series and am looking forward to many more seasons from the three guys dressed in suits.