Dallas does double duty in gut-busting standup flick

GAY FRIENDLY GUIDO: Bret Ernst pays comic tribute to his older brother who died of AIDS.

Grade: B

“Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights Hollywood to the Heartland” is funny as (insert your favorite four-letter word). If you don’t have a favorite four-letter word you may pick one up from the movie. All the comics involved “work blue.”

Emulating Buffalo Bill, who took his traveling Wild West Show to Middle America, Vaughn recruited four comics from Los Angels’ Comedy Store and toured them to 29 cities in 30 days in September 2005. It would have been 30 cities but in dodging Hurricane Rita they played a second day at Dallas’ Granada Theater instead of risking Beaumont.

The four stand-up comics may not have Vaughn’s marquee value but they amuse the hell out of the crowds: John Caparulo, a sweet, chubby blue-collar guy from Cleveland who doesn’t have much luck with women; Bret Ernst, a high-energy “half-Guido” who “sweats when he eats” and does great physical bits; Egyptian-born Ahmed Ahmed, who says, “Arabs we’re the new black”; and yuppie-ish Sebastian Mansicalco, the least experienced of the four, who’s determined not to go back to waiting tables after this tour.

Whether onstage, being interviewed or in candid scenes of the tour, the emphasis is on rapid-fire humor, with a few exceptions. The comics go to a trailer park outside Birmingham to distribute free tickets to Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Ernst’s folks travel from Boca Raton to see their son in Atlanta, and between jokes about his gay older brother, we learn that brother died of AIDS in 2001. As Caparulo says, “It’s a really cool thing to have a job that’s cathartic.”

Caparulo does a funny riff on the idea, “Would you suck another guy’s dick for a million dollars?” (Hey, this is straight comedy.)

At the outset Taylor Hackford predicts, “These people will be different people when they finish.” They may be happier and more fulfilled than usual at the end of a grueling month while preparing for post-partem depression, but they’re the same people who decided to go into that crazy business in the first place. And they’ve been reminded of why.
Steve Warren

Opens Feb. 8 in wide release.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Friday, February 8, 2008.
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