'Strangers With Candy' out on DVD

by Kate Carolan | 11/15/04 6:00am

The dark comedy "Strangers with Candy," much as its title would indicate, is exactly that television show that parents wish their children would never find.

The show was created by and stars the comedic troupe of Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello and Mitch Rouse. The preview warns that the show is for mature audiences only, featuring adult language and situations. The disclaimer, however, should really read that the show is not for the strong of conscience, but for the faint of propriety. The show is really the creation of the writers' (Sedaris and Dinello) wildest and most perverted dreams, and is not only hilarious, but truly smart and brilliant.

Sadly, the series has drawn to a close, with Comedy Central's release of the third and final season on DVD in late September.

In theme, "Strangers with Candy" mirrors many other TV shows of our time, centering around the ever-comedic high school experience. What differentiates Jerri Blank (Sedaris) from a Zach Morrison, Cory Matthews or Dawson Leary is that Jerri is 47 years old. A self-proclaimed "user, boozer and loser," Jerri Blank left high school and took to the streets and prison cells for 32 years before returning to flunk ninth grade for a second time.

The show addresses the real deal in terms of high school content -- dating, drugs and bullies -- with a refreshing disregard for political correctness, but not to such an extent that the show is offensive and its cleverness lost.

The key to the show's sharp humor and ability to tackle such sensitive and controversial topics with raw wit and cynicism is undoubtedly the creation of the Jerri Blank persona. Part of what makes the show so funny is the pink elephant phenomenon surrounding Jerri, wherein everyone around her seems to ignore the fact that she is older than her foster mom and old enough to have given birth to the classmates she befriends.

Much of the series' hilarity comes from Sedaris' keen acting and her ability to embrace the character of Jerri and make it a truly unique invention, unlike anything else in the history of television. Amy Sedaris' mission in portraying Jerri Blank, perhaps the most unattractive character to hit the screen since Freddy Cougar, is to make herself as ridiculous as humanly possible. Jerri's blackened teeth, tapered pants, and squirrel-like mannerisms are really what define and separate the show from other crass comedies of a similar nature.

The newly released DVD features the 10 episodes from Season Three, along with a blooper reel, a dance sequence compilation and the storyboard animation. The blooper reel is funny, and worth the 25 minutes of running time. Seeing comedians improvise scripted material when they mess up is always good for a laugh.

Perhaps the highlight of the DVD though is Stephen Colbert's rendition of "The King of Glory" on the dance sequence compilation. This scene, which appeared in Season Two, is perhaps the funniest thing on the DVD. Stephen Colbert's impromptu dance to this Christian hymn is a landmark performance.

"Strangers" will likely not make or break one's DVD collection, but is definitely worth having, especially because it's now extinct as far as future broadcasting ventures are concerned. These episodes can be watched several times because of the subliminal humor laced into each episode. Every opportunity for a joke is accounted for in this singular treasure of a series.