For those who only remember Bob Newhart from his classic TV sitcom of the ''70s, The Button-Down Concert may come as a pleasant revelation. Older fans will of course recall that Newhart''s stellar career began in stand-up comedy, and by the time his phenomenally popular LP The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart was released in 1960, the comedian called "The Dean of Deadpan" in The New York Times was playing to standing-room-only crowds at Vegas casinos and nightclubs across the country, offering a clean alternative to the "sick" humor of Lenny Bruce. Recorded in 1995 and originally broadcast on Showtime as Bob Newhart: Off the Record, this revival concert of Newhart''s classic ''60s routines is equal parts nostalgia trip and welcomed opportunity to appreciate the enduring quality of Newhart''s most beloved "Button-Down" routines. Essentially a greatest-hits performance, the hour-long concert (from the historic Raymond Theater in Pasadena, California) runs the gamut from "Unemployment Office" and "The School for Rude Bus Drivers" to "Sir Walter Raleigh Explains Tobacco" and "The Tipsy Accountant''s Retirement Party." In nearly every routine, Newhart masters his trademark style, delivering each sketch as a one-sided telephone call (as in "King Kong and the New Security Guard" and the classic "Abe Lincoln''s P.R. Man") or as an officious drone or beleaguered everyman addressing a captive audience (as in "The Airplane Captain Speaks to his Passengers"), and in each case, Newhart''s inimitable line deliveries and befuddled stutter render each line hilarious, even when the humor shows signs of its Rat Pack-era vintage. It''s obvious that Newhart relished this opportunity to perform these time-honored sketches to a new and (mostly) younger audience, and his performance goes off without a hitch. In the "Buttoned Down" bonus featurette, Newhart places his early career in context, and describes how he learned to hone each routine to each individual audience, and for anyone interested in building a definitive collection of stand-up classics, this DVD is nothing less than essential. --Jeff Shannon
The New York Times calls him "the Dean of Deadpan." The Los Angeles Times calls him "a genius." You''ll just call him hilarious when you catch your breath...Bob Newhart''s return to the stand-up stage is a deliriously funny ride!
Newhart, whose unprecedented three successful TV series and guest roles in Elf, "E.R." and "Desperate Housewives" have endeared him to millions, delivers a winning performance in a rare televised special that recalls his days as a comedy-circuit cut-up. Tackling everything from crazy bus drivers and mad inventors to cheap airlines and King Kong, the Golden Globe-winning* Newhart takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinarily funny. It''s no wonder he''s "still a very hot ticket" (Parade)!
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