Christmas Comedy DVDs

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Christmas Comedy DVDs

This year’s Christmas live comedy DVD releases contain a plethora of quality. Brian Donaldson picks the ones Santa should be tossing down your chimney

With one recent internet poll naming Peter Kay as the funniest British comedian who has ever lived while Michael McIntyre steamrolls up the DVD charts, it seems that comedy is not unlike the other genres when it comes to ‘popular’ ‘opinion’. There was a glimmer that taste had come to the masses when early November receipts showed that Frankie Boyle Live (4DVD) was absolutely tearing out the shops. There are few sacred cows left to be slaughtered after this show with some cruelly hilarious gags about losing his virginity and how Diana might have turned out.

Jimmy Carr once noted that his favourite audience reaction is the gut laugh followed by gasps of outrage, both at the joke itself and that person’s immediate response. Boyle’s show has them by the blooded truckload but, unsurprisingly, Jimmy Carr in Concert (4DVD) isn’t lacking in a sharp intake of breath especially when he’s managing to eke out humour with a stridently appalling rape or incest gag.

Dara O’Briain Talks Funny (Universal) is so called because, I suppose, he’s an Irishman living in London and, no doubt whatsoever, very amusing indeed. There’s surely no one who can launch into audience banter better than this likeable Shrekalike Wicklow boy. Not that he’s short of excellent material with routines about property programmes and hotel turn-up teams hitting their mark. One of Dara’s Mock the Week buddies shows his potential in Russell Howard Live (4DVD) as the blonde Bristolian does another hyperactive hour with only the squealing of his front row female fans stalling the process.

While the majority of live DVDs out now are of shows recorded in the last year, Rowan Atkinson Live (Warner) features old rubber chops in the days before Mr Bean had sucked the juice out of the creative prowess he’d constructed as Edmund Blackadder. It’s easy to see why Atkinson was practically driving the bandwagon against the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill: half of the material in this early 90s set shot in the US are of vicars saying the most damnable and hilarious things. Back after a decade away from the circuit, the Midlands’ favourite 50-year-old son returned in a blaze of sold-out shows and in Frank Skinner Stand Up (Universal), Baddiel’s ex-couch pal proves that he’s still got it. I only mention his age because Skinner built an entire comeback set around his leap (though it’s more of a slow, awkward fall) out of his 40s.

But if you truly love someone this Yuletide, give them Sean Lock Live (Universal). There are many dozens of reasons why this is the stand-out stand-up DVD in the shops right now, but if you only get it to see a man impersonating a swan with pinpoint accuracy, you’ll not be making a mistake.

All DVDs are available now.

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