Tart-tongued comic, best-known for his appearances on MTV and in Nike commercials and currently appearing in “National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1,” Denis Leary is the antithesis of “politically correct.” His viewpoint may be an acquired taste, but he’s an undeniably pro performer.
In Showtime spec, a distillation of his successful off-Broadway show, Leary alternates between puffing his omnipresent cigarettes and swilling from a beer bottle as he stands in favor of smoking, at least some forms of drugs, and sees no problem with corporal punishment of one’s children.
How seriously he takes all this is projected in his opening song, “(I’m an) Asshole,” current radio favorite promoting sales of his best-selling A&M album of much the same material.
Delivery concentrates more on attitude than jokes; in that respect, Leary resembles Dennis Miller without the arcane references (on the Stairmaster: “Have we become gerbils, ladies and gentlemen?”).
And, he takes on targets presumably respected by his audience, including rock band R.E.M., singer-activist Don Henley and MTV itself.
Even when taking cheap shots, Leary finds an offensive attitude. On the death of Bee Gees brother Andy Gibb: “One down, three to go.” On a blues guitarist who died in an aircraft crash: “Stevie Ray Vaughan is dead, and we can’t get Jon Bon Jovi up in a helicopter.”
For all his mock rancor and occasional use of sexual references, Leary is refreshingly non-sexist.
In requisite tender moment, Leary reflects on his own father (another macho chain-smoker) and feelings prompted by birth of his son.
Well-paced and near-seamless perf was filmed at Irving Plaza in NYC last year. Supporting players listed above are members of Leary’s band, who appear for two numbers.