Brian M. Raftery
November 05, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Complete Denis Leary

Current Status
In Season
Denis Leary

We gave it a B

Ranting and raving like a bug-eyed, gap-toothed, chain-smoking auctioneer, Denis Leary stood apart from his early-’90s comedy contemporaries like Seinfeld and Sinbad. But it wasn’t just because of his alkaline delivery: In No Cure for Cancer, one of two stand-up specials collected on The Complete Denis Leary, he takes on all the heavy stuff — drugs, death, Barry Manilow — with humor so detailed, it could only come from painful self-examination. (”Cocaine?… I’d like to do a drug that makes my penis small, makes my nose bleed, makes my heart explode, and sucks all my money out of the bank.”) The references may now be slightly dated (remember those crazy StairMaster contraptions?), but Leary’s anxious body language provides a constant rhythm, his tall frame acting as a walking exclamation point. That same physical finesse is still there five years later on Lock ‘N Load, but the material focuses too much on family life. It’s not exactly dull, but it’s not exactly daring, either.

EXTRAS A making-of doc of Cancer and music videos including the still-funny suburbanite send-up ”A?hole.”

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