"So a duck and a fish walk into a synagogue..."
In my own personal world, there are only three things that can truly be classified as being "worse than death" : McDonald's soup, the odor emanating from my friend Dave's feet, and a really horrible stand-up comic. The first two can be easily avoided (get a happy meal and buy Dave some powder). The last, however, is as avoidable as sand in a desert. The sheer number of microphone-waving, bolo-tie-wearing, bad-hair-day-having comics is astounding and frightening. They are the bringers of bad jokes, the harbingers of hopeless humor, the practitioners of pointless patter that insult the intelligence of the masses and attempt to undermine the very fabric of our existence. And they can be yours to enjoy in this well-intentioned but utterly hopeless comic romp.
Don't Quit Your Day Job puts you in the role of a Hollywood talent scout assigned to find a hot new comic for the "Johnnie K. Show," a fictitious late night talk show. You have to infiltrate the world famous hub of stand-up comedy itself, The Improv, in an effort to schmooze the staff, patrons, and bigwigs into giving your chosen client a chance. You get a choice of whom you wish to represent - Shirley Felcker (the waitress with the annoyingly nasal voice) or Dolan Delatorre (the doorman who looks like a reject from Raging Bull). Depending upon whom you choose, different characters must be approached at the right time. If you screw up and talk to someone out of turn, you get flushed into Hell's Basement, a pitstop en route to the "Curse of the CD ROM Hallways." Choose a door, complete a puzzle, and you're back in business, having been magically transported back to The Improv.
Where do I start? Or rather, when can I stop? This is quite possibly the easiest game ever. It took me two hours to complete both CD's (one for each character), after which the game became simply a vehicle for over 30 comics to expel their unimaginative and quite unfunny attempts at humor in my face. The game promotes several big names (Bill Maher, John Mendoza, Steve Allen) but includes only about one minute worth of shtick from each. Sort of like saying that you have a brand new car that's really just a piece of driftwood with a wheel.
False advertising aside, the graphics are worth mentioning. DQYDJ employs the newest version of Quicktime for Windows (comes with the game) that allows for some pretty nice full motion video. The background scaling gives the Improv a cool 3D effect, and large character sprites help with the realism. You have to do a lot of scrolling to find people in the game, and this is fairly smooth as well.
Control is mouse operated, but the movement limitations really affect freedom in the game environment. You can only move to certain places and get certain things. Unfortunately, there aren't that many places to go or things to get. In fact, there are only 8 items to get or use in the entire game, which translates to only 4 items each for the two characters (I did the math all by myself). Further, the game tells you when you need to use an item and patiently waits while you cycle through the (potentially) 4 that you have in your briefcase. If you choose the wrong item, a voice tells you to try again. Oooh, now there's a challenge (said with more than a hint of sarcasm).
By far the most entertaining aspect of the game lies within the "Curse of the CD ROM Hallways." When you choose unwisely, you are sent to this area containing 8 doors. Beyond each door is a puzzle or parody that must be completed or endured to continue the game. Among the tastier titles are "Shoot the Heckler," where you get to um, ah, well, shoot the, um, er, ah, heckler. I also enjoyed the "Gratuitous Sex Room," where I made a new friend. Overall, however, these challenges are about as difficult to get past as a cross-eyed midget with a broken leg and bad hearing (no offense to any blind, deaf, limping midgets out there). In other words, this is the most entertaining part of a game that thinks entertainment is a one-liner about the difference between men and women (so you say men and women are different? Who woulda thunk it?)
To top it all off, this game is supposed to be funny. Scattered throughout the game are audio and video clips of about 30 comics. I tried really hard to enjoy their bits, going so far as to sit through almost all of them. But this is some straight made-for-TV regurgitated crap. Most of the comics are no-names and will probably stay that way. Now don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of comedy. In fact, I may very well be the funniest guy that I know. But honestly, this is a comedy game, and I barely chuckled. Furthermore, the aspiring comics you choose to represent are really lame. With a capital LAME. They're even less funny than the rest. And what happens when you win the game and get your comic a shot at the big time? You get to sit through about 5 minutes of his/her "wacky antics" after which the credits roll. Wow, what a payoff (to be taken with a ham sandwich and a glass of sarcasm).
They say that in comedy everything is timing and delivery. If that's the case, then Don't Quit Your Day Job is a broken rolex lost in the mail. 'Nuff said.