Monday, November 26, 2012

Smile when your heart is breaking (2012 edition)

It's that time again. No, not for a tedious 'my favourite X of 2012' list/post (although if just one person asks, I will give you a list of my films of the year) but to look at the hilarious stand up DVDs available for your consumption this Xmas.

As noted in last year's inaugural post - November brings us not only a gruesome bunch of Movember tosh, but also a plethora of sidesplitting comedy DVDs offering you a lazy present choice for the person you know who 'likes a laugh'. God help them...

All 16 (16!) of the DVDs scrutinised here come out in a single fortnight, earmarking the tiny window of sales opportunity before they're all reduced in the sales/shown on Dave. Here we find all the regulars on our favourite panel 'quizzes' in a live context. ie: They probably say 'fuck' a lot more than they do on QI or 8 Out of 10 Cats. But what do the covers of these chucklefests signify?

Let's have a look, shall we?

I can walk AND crack wise:


Our first selection highlights the superior walking-and-talking-at-the-same-time skills of the comedian. Michael McIntyre is only here by default. Not really walking but instaead doing a kind of strange one-legged dur-daaaah! thing that, let's face it, merely serves to say: 'LOOK, I've lost LOADS of weight, and I'm still richer than Croesus'. Apparently he writes his own material, which, while only observational schtick, still lends itself to his cheery delivery style. I don't hate him as much as other comedians seem to. 

We KNOW Dara O Briain is clever. He presents that new Science Club thing and seems good at sums on QI. His distracted, over the shoulder look as he strides denotes wry observational humour, a notch above McIntyre. However, being described as 'dependably entertaining' on your DVD must rankle, surely?

Kevin Bridges apparently has an 'eye for detail'. Oh, so he must be observational as well. And the lack of a smile signifies that not only is his 'story' continuing (right AT you) but that he now means business.  Eek!

Finally, and almost beneath contempt comes the truly awful Lee Nelson, who London readers will know got himself arrested on Oxford Street while pretending to steal his own DVD in a publicity stunt. What a c*ck. he's not really walking but he sure is moving fast. Straight to the remainder bins.

'First Ever Live Stand-Up DVD' screams the packaging. Let's hope it's the last...

I've got a wide angle lens and I'm gonna use it:

Let's cover Jon Richardson first shall we? Apparently he's 'destined for showbiz big-time'. Not 'for THE big time', or to make it 'big in showbiz', but 'destined for showbiz big-time', which seems to imply that he's about to seriously consider a career in show business.

Confusing. Especially when you consider that this is a man who's never off the panel shows (as most of our entrants here are). He must be as surprised by this news as us. The skewed perspective, oft-favoured by comedy DVDs gives us a kind of 'I'm comin' atcha with my funny!' feeling. He's a wry northerner and this is probably not that bad.

Regulars will know that I cannot greet anything by John Bishop with the same good will or Xmas compassion. His lazy updating of Scouse working man's club schtick delivered in a drawl that may come from some kind of industrial pollution-related brain damage is never welcome. Is that a cheeky wave 'hello', or is he reenacting Warhol's famous screen print of Mick Jagger's 1967 drugs bust? Or does he just want us to know that he's married, despite his often sexist drivel? And what is implied by the 'bigger than ever' blurb? Is he now 30 feet tall? Who cares? Enough...

(addendum: both Kevin Bridges and Micky Flanagan used this device last year)

I've done something a bit naughty:

Jack Whitehall's the posh youngster who's been cluttering up most terrestrial channels this year. His poshness is his THING (it's not like Simon Evans beat him to that one, is it?). He's that perennial type first epitomised centuries ago by Rob Newman: kinda cute and fanciable, clever, educated and actually quite funny (in smallish doses). But look, he's got that almost tongue in cheek and wild-eyed look that says: 'I'm going to say some naughty words, possibly about genitalia, while I'm hilariously self-deprecating'. 

Oh, he's harmless, as is Sara Millican. I actually like Millican a lot, although I was quite shocked to find out HOW much she swears on stage. Her entire act depends on her looking like butter wouldn't melt... while delivering great down-to-earth Geordie comedy, so it's no surprise to find her in this category. However, nil points for originality. Her cover is a virtual carbon copy of last year's. Except this year she's in green instead of red...

Adam Hills is also mostly harmless, in fact so much so that I only remember him because of the leg thing. Australian and always seemingly in a good mood, he's resorted to balloons and a 'who me?' look to make us buy his DVD.

Peter Kay, on the other hand looks like he's just done something horrid in your hat. I suspect the 'over 55 minutes of NEW live stand-up' is worse than that. The very appearance of this DVD a year after his 'big' return to stand-up implies that he's jumped the comedy shark in a big way. This is just sad. he's a gnat's whisker away from joining the yearly crapathons visited upon us by Roy 'Chubby' Brown, Jethro and all those other cruddy types.

Look at me I'm mad:

Stewart Francis is, like Milton Jones and Time Vine a primarily pun-based joker, which means he's contractually obliged to either act out a pun or be a bit mad on his cover. He's opted for... well, you can see what he's opted for. Well done Stewart. He's Canadian and actually very funny. But I'm a boy, and boys like puns.

Ross Noble, a bit like Bill Bailey, Eddie Izzard and even Paul Merton before him, is a 'surrealist' comic, which means he's prone to flights of fancy and rambling tangential routines. Again, he's always pretty good, so we can forgive the rather sub-standard steampunk, comix and psychedelics that grace his cover. It's pretty WYSIWYG really (ooh, get me).

Rhod Gilbert, as anyone who's seen recent appearances on chat shows knows, has based his routine partly on the acquisition of a new 'pointless' tattoo of a flaming piece of battenberg cake. Thus his crazy cover is actually quite literal. You know Gilbert. He's Welsh, he rants and shouts. A lot. His anger at the stupidity of the quotidian is nicely done, if exhausting. Possibly not one for post-Queen's speech relaxation.


Our final three entries seem to plough their own respective furrows, for whatever reason. Firstly, Al Murray in his 'Pub Landlord' guise. Murray's actually quite posh, worked with Harry Hill (as big brother Alan) and his updating of Alf Garnett is wonderfully over the top (if, perhaps, beginning to lose a bit of steam). Like Garnett he, unfortunately, does seem to attract the kind of taxi-driving right-wingers that he lampoons. Here he stares off into mid-distance, the noble reactionary protecting an England that never existed. This is called pathos. I think.

Omid Djalili's new live DVD fails for a couple of glaring reasons. Firstly, I'm guessing that they've made the 'Omid' far bigger than the 'Djalili' because they fear our inability to accept erm... middle eastern comedy. Sheesh... Secondly this looks like it was put together by a three-year old with access to an iPad. Garish and cheap-looking, this fine comedian deserves BETTER, people.

Lastly, here's sweary, offensive old Frankie Boyle. Frankie's had a rough old time of it recently. maybe that beard signifies weary contrition. Or maybe his inability to look us in the eye does the same thing. The 'comic laureate of broken Britain'? Really? Actually I do miss his envelope-pushing on Mock The Week (although luckily they seem to have removed the awful student's favourite, Russell Howard, from the show, for which we should be grateful) but ultimately I think his days are numbered. people like edginess, but Jimmy carr does it with less bile, and in the end people go to a stand-up gig to be cheered up, not reminded of how awful EVERYTHING is. 

So, there you go - and if I've missed any please let me know. Have an hilarious Xmas, one and all!


josie dixon said...

grin. i think dara o'briain is also saying i have really big feet.

Chris Jones said...

God you're RIGHT - never noticed that - I think he goes in the wide ange lens category as well, unless he's freakishly big-footed. Weird...