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Originally published Friday, February 8, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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4 comedians on the road — with Vince Vaughn?

Vince Vaughn's got plenty of nerve. First, for putting his name in the title of a movie as if that's enough to sell it. Second, for picking four...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Movie review 2.5 stars

"Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show," with Vince Vaughn, John Caparulo,

Ahmed Ahmed, Bret Ernst, Sebastian Maniscalco. Directed by Ari Sandel. 100 minutes. Rated R for pervasive language and some sex-related humor. Several theaters.

Vince Vaughn's got plenty of nerve.

First, for putting his name in the title of a movie as if that's enough to sell it. Second, for picking four fledgling stand-up comedians to take on a grueling 30-day, 30-city tour and documenting the whole thing.

But the fast-talking Vaughn is one of the few actors who's just walkin'-around-funny in real life, and it's enjoyable to watch him work without a safety net as emcee, sparring with ex-co-stars Jon Favreau ("Swingers"), a very sporting Justin Long ("Dodgeball") and best pal Peter Billingsly (Ralphie from "A Christmas Story").

Unfortunately, the four comics on the road trip are about on the level of your average "Last Comic Standing" contestant — competent and just mildly funny, but unremarkable. Definitely no future Bill Hicks or Richard Pryor in the lot.

The closest of them to walkin'-around-funny is John Caparulo — "Cap" — a vulgar good ol' boy with a cartoonish voice, whose mother says she always knew he'd be an entertainer, a cult leader or a felon. The rest: hyper-physical Bret Ernst; vain-looking Sebastian Maniscalco, still working as a waiter and riffing with male/female observations; and Ahmed Ahmed, an Egyptian with a polished, low-key delivery, whose material mainly consists of being Middle Eastern. (Remember the "Last Comic" contestant whose shtick was entirely about being Italian-American? Got old fast.)

If much of the comedy is uninspired, the behind-the-scenes voyeurism is educational. Cameras follow Vaughn and the boys as they get depressed after a bad show, meet up with their sometimes-embarrassing families (Cap's sister recalls dressing him up like a girl, and Ahmed's dad wasn't thrilled at this career choice), pound the pavement for benefit shows, mess with each other on the bus (it's cathartic to see grown-up Ralphie/Billingsly swear and threaten one of the guys who pranks him when he's trying to sleep) — and realize before long that they may have bitten off more than they can chew with the ambitious tour schedule.

Some tour fatigue is contagious by the end. If you think you want to try your hand at stand-up, watch and learn. If you just want some laughs, your return won't be as good.

Mark Rahner: 206-464-8259 or mrahner@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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