Down to Earth [2001]

While Alex Borstein's material in this concert performance is a little thin, her alluring pose on the DVD cover alone catapults her into the ranks of comedy babes. She is not as pointedly political as Janeane Garafalo or as taboo-shattering as Sarah Silverman (two names she invokes early on). She is more a kindred spirit of Margaret Cho and her comedy of empowerment. Borstein, the voice of Lois on Family Guy and former ensemble member on MadTV, demonstrates that truth may not be stranger than fiction, but it can definitely be funnier, as she reads from actual female "character breakdowns" for proposed TV shows and movies. Who says there aren't good strong, positive roles for women? One such breakdown calls for a character who is a mutant as well as "kick-ass" sexy. And, as an afterthought, "red hair would be nice." The freshness date on some of her topics has long since lapsed. She calls out Rosie O'Donnell on her so-called "crush" on Tom Cruise, and blasts those who hailed Renee Zellweger as brave for gaining 25 pounds to portray Bridget Jones. "I walk around like this everyday," the Reubenesque Borstein proclaims, "That's brave." She elevates the material with nimble impressions of Zellweger, Charlize Theron in Monster, and singer Natalie Merchant. After jokingly citing Janet on Three's Company, Velma from Scooby-Doo, Kate Jackson's Sabrina from Charlie's Angels, and the Facts of Life girls as her inspirations, Borstein turns "schmaltzy" at the end to encourage her audience to not "look outside for role models." Borstein generously grants Ted Hardwick precious stage time as cheesy warm-up entertainer Teddy Towne. A menu option allows you to skip right to Alex. Use it. Of greater interest to Borstein's worshipful following is her informal but informative tour of the Family Guy offices. --Donald Liebenson

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