Like any other comic, he’s just trying to give people his point of view. What he presents on the Jeff Allen Live: Happy Wife, Happy Life Revisited DVD is a somewhat haggard family man who has enough trouble dealing with the smaller questions — like what to do when his wife asks if she looks fat or how to deal with a hyperactive child — without trying to take on the larger questions of religion.
Jeff brings to mind another Allen — Tim Allen in his Tool Time phase rather than his more vulgar onstage personality. Jeff Allen is a gentle smart-ass with a gruff exterior but essentially harmless, and the joke is usually on him – especially when it comes to his family.
He hates the family cat and wished it a decidedly un-Christian-like demise: “My dream is one day the kids come into the bedroom, all three boys, each holding a cat leg. ‘Daddy, kitty broke.'”
He gets hurt trying to learn how to ski with his wife, and can’t deal with the insurance company: “You got hit in the head with a chair-lift? Well that makes you a moron. We consider that a pre-existing condition.”
Allen’s performance is light family comedy, and nothing you haven’t heard before. References to religion are sparse, aside from a quick bit about giving the children Biblical names (they decided on “Satan” for the youngest).
There are a few good routines, like his take on weight loss — “We’d all exercise if the weight we gained was on a more uncomfortable spot on our body. Where do we gain weight? Our stomachs and our behinds. It’s not in our way, is it? A couple of pounds on your forehead, that would get you to a gym, wouldn’t it?”
But this is mostly a workmanlike set. Allen is a capable, engaging comic who’s not shooting for deep philosophy. He’s entertaining but not terribly memorable.
A couple of his funniest bits come out in the “Bonus Testimony” section of the DVD, which is basically Allen’s story of how he found God. Yes, there’s some of the teeth gnashing and uncomfortable tears that go along with anything labeled religious testimony, but it’s also where Allen is at his most honest and vulnerable, which is a great place for comedy to germinate.
He talks about how he was depressed and apathetic, how he had sucked the life out of his marriage, and how it wasn’t necessarily God that saved his marriage.
“One of my biggest problems in life is procrastination,” he says. “It was my job to fill out the divorce papers.” That’s a great line, with as much drama as comedy, and it’s a shame it didn’t make the main show.
His best point, about blaming your problems on a dysfunctional home, isn’t necessarily a joke: “I’ve been looking at that for the past 18 years,” he says. “Show me a functional home.”