Paul Rodriguez: Live in San Quentin (May 25/05)
Paul Rodriguez is one of those comedians that's seemingly been around forever. He's been a recurring fixture on the Comic Relief specials, he's starred in a couple of sitcoms, and he's even directed a film (A Million to Juan, a movie that can't possibly be as good as its title). Through his career, he's made a few trips to San Quentin - the notorious California prison that's been around for over a hundred years. This special, which originally aired live on HBO, captures Rodriguez's 1995 show at the institution and features the comedian performing his act before an auditorium full of convicts.
Not surprisingly, a lot of Rodriguez's material is geared towards the crowd - he does a long bit on masturbation that the crowd goes nuts for - but there's also a lot of stuff here that so-called "civilians" can relate to. On that level, Rodriguez's drawn-out explanation of a trip to the proctologists office is clearly the highlight; his enthusiastic description of the day's events is rife with genuine laughs and perfectly exemplifies Rodriguez's gift for connecting with an audience.
Other bits aren't quite as successful - including a long, dated piece on the O.J. Simpson trial - yet there's no denying Rodriguez's likeable persona and Bill Cosby-esque gift for doling out a compelling story.