Today we kick off an occasional series in which The Standup Philosopher highlights an obscure streaming-media offering in an attempt to protect you from making the same mistake. Let’s be honest. We’ve all made some horrible entertainment choices during the COVID-19 social distancing era, and sometimes it’s hard to cut short an episode before the credits roll.
We had the privilege last night to catch “Dean’s Place (9/6/1975)” on Amazon Prime Video, and boy did the hilarity ensue — not in our household, but surely on the laugh track. Why did we click on this? Honestly, I have no freakin’ idea.
Here’s the premise: Legendary performer Dean Martin hosts as the owner/operator of a Beverly Hills nightclub who invites stars to dine and listen to a few tunes and jokes.
The special quickly jumps in (or off the cliff) with Martin trudging through a listless cover of Jim Croce’s “Bad Bad Leroy Brown.” The forced smiles and stilted sways from those gathered at the stage-side cocktail tables say it all. The only thing missing is a post-song cameo from Don “No Soul” Simmons to offer an encouraging, “You nailed it!”
Among the other “Dean’s Place” highlights:
- The comedic stylings of funny men Kip Addotta and Kelly Monteith (yeah, I don’t remember them either) featuring forced laughter cutaways not seen since the heyday of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
- Dean offering former California Gov. Ronald Reagan and wife Nancy a bottle of a 1976 wine vintage … in 1975. “It could be a good year,” Martin quips. (This skit fails to draw the A-list writers, but I have to give Ron some kudos: His comedic timing, even with atrocious source material, is spot on.)
- The New Golddiggers belting out such tunes as “I am Woman” in matching slit-cut dresses or pant suits. Country music star Jessi Colter saves the day with a pleasing piano rendition of “I’m not Lisa.”
- Martin and Robert Mitchum exchanging some well-worn banter about their drinking exploits over a hand of gin rummy. “Gin!” … “Gin?” … “Don’t mind if I do.”
- A Celtic-themed musical/mime performance by the Untouchables. As one troupe member donning a plum velour shirt croons a very un-Irish version of “Danny Boy,” his two colleagues act out a slow-motion pantomime fight over who gets to wave goodbye to Danny. The continual laugh track insertions ensure us that it’s funny, and based on the post-sketch applause cutaways, it was particularly enjoyed by Ron and Nancy.
- Sherman Hemsley delivering Martin’s tuxedo jacket before joining him on-stage for an awkward song-and-dance number. Hemsley’s “The Jeffersons” co-star Isabel Sanford appears as Hemsley’s wife.
- Police Woman Angie Dickinson reaching into her purse to don a Groucho funny nose-mustache-glasses disguise, sending Martin into a overdone hysterical laughter fit usually reserved for the Celebrity Roasts.
Other guest stars include Foster Brooks as a drunk patron, Jack Cassidy as the maître d’, Vincent Gardenia as Vince the chef and Georgia Engel as a woman waiting hours for her blind date before a rubber-wig-clad Milton Berle finally shows up.
We can all agree that Dean Martin was a tremendously talented performer, but this special can only be recommended with a Martin- or Mitchum-esque level of potent potables. I haven’t yet come up with a signature grading scale for this site, so I’ll just give it a C—.