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Henry Rollins | Shock & Awe | review | dvd | Lollipop
Shock & Awe (Image Entertainment)
By Ari M. Joffe
Henry Rollins is not the same guy he was 20, even 10, years ago. He's mellowed, and thank the Lord for that.
If there was ever anyone who needed to take the phrase "lighten up" to heart, it was Rollins. Not that the guy didn't have a good reason for being as, shall we say, "intense" as he was. Shit, he was part of the cult of Greg Ginn, a.k.a. Black Flag. Putting in the number of miles and taking punk rock all over the world the way those cats did is bound to give anybody a real serious anti-social streak and a HUGE chip on your shoulder. (Read Get In The Van for further details.) Add to that the murder of his best bud, Joe Cole, back in the early '90s and you can see what fueled the guy's fire and gave him the reputation of being a humorless "I-take-my-shit-way-too-seriously" type of critter. There was nowhere left to go with that whole shtick other than the grave or jail so Henry was smart enough to drop it.
Shock & Awe, his new spoken word concert DVD, presents Rollins as a comedian, recognizing, and poking fun at, his own human inadequacies. He jokes about not being able to sustain a relationship, masturbating too much, flirting with telemarketers, eating scallops with Captain Kirk, and going to parties in Hollywood just to steal silverware. It's comedy, for sure. The way he delivers his lines, the broad physical movements, the different voices he goes into, it's all designed to make the audience laugh, but there's really no "routine." It's not like he's thought about awesome ways to segue from one bit to another, he just kinda spins the yarns as he goes (or at least that's how it seems).
It's good to see Rollins enjoying himself, rather than getting all wrapped up in some kinda dark, emotional purging in front of a group of strangers. The dude's done all that (and done it extremely affectively) and lived to laugh about it.