Columnist, radio producer, and film school graduate Vito Calise, is reviewing all the comedy specials he can see. You know him from SiriusXM’s Bennington Show, The Interrobang’s Big Brothers podcast, and as the star of the first ever Instagram young adult drama series, The Halls. Born and raised on New York City’s Upper West Side, Vito went to Chelsea’s School of Visual Arts, has danced on bars as a bartender around Manhattan, operated a mechanical bull and was even a doorman for a week. He loves comedy and he’s a straight shooter, sharing his thoughts on comedy specials with you. This week he takes on Tom Arnold’s Past & Present Imperfectly, which will hit iTunes, Amazon, Comcast, DIRECTV, AT&T, DISH, Charter, Google Play and other cable and satellite companies on June 5th.
Tom Arnold: Past & Present Imperfectly
“Tom Arnold’s “Past & Present” just isn’t something that anybody needs to go out of their way to see.”
Before the material starts, we follow Tom walking into the club and being raised up to backstage from below- but slowly and without any sense of show or excitement. There was no music, you could just here the mechanism of the lift. I think this was supposed to be ironic, but it was just uncomfortable. When Tom takes the stage you’re just wondering if that part is going to be referenced at all or it was meaningless. Of course, it was meaningless and he just goes right into material about the venue and what the neighborhood is like outside. You finally get some sort of closure on this “bit” at the end of the special where he does this exact same thing but going down and checks his watch with a “why is this taking so long” look on his face.
Overall, the special is better than I thought a Tom Arnold special was going to be. I’m not saying it’s a good special, just that it’s definitely not as bad as I thought it would be. I was expecting this to be worse than the Kevin James Netflix special but he definitely did a better job than that. Tom Arnold’s “Past & Present” just isn’t something that anybody needs to go out of their way to see.
The material doesn’t land at home and it really doesn’t seem to land live either. At some points the laughter is embarrassing. Arnold will tell a joke you can tell he thinks was hilarious and you just hear a few people chuckle. Sometimes he says something and nobody laughs at all. Arnold works himself up as he wheezes through the special and it feels like your watching a Tom Arnold movie where something is going wrong.
The hour is mostly stories that are there to remind you Tom Arnold is technically a celebrity. Some of the people he name drops are Robin Williams, Hugh Grant, James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He uses the term “best friends” with these celebrities pretty freely. Arnold only says “Jim Cameron” as if to remind you that he considers Jim Cameron a friend … just in case, you might have forgotten.
The stories are fine; they just don’t really feel like standup material. There are comedians who are amazing storytellers. People who can pepper in-jokes and really make their life experiences flow within their act. Tom Arnold just doesn’t do that. It feels more like you started talking to someone at a party and now you’re stuck listening to them go on and on about their heyday. Early on he tells a story about getting stabbed by his ex-wife Roseanne Barr and somehow makes this boring. But if you ever wanted to hear about 2 or 3 alleged stories from the set of True Lies then this special is for you.