Comedy DVDs round up - The best and worst
The verdict on DVDs from Richard Herring, Greg Giraldo, Tommy Tiernan and Kevin Bridges
Comic: Simon Amstell
DVD: Do Nothing
Filmed: Vicar Street, Dublin
The show: the former Popworld and Never Mind the Buzzcocks host proves that behind the barbed sarcasm, he’s a vulnerable little soul. Over the course of 80 minutes, he chats about his inability to find a good man and his oddball family. A tortured Jewish lad, Amstell is surely paying homage to Woody Allen with the trad jazz tune which bookends the DVD.
Top extra: an interview with Tim Key in which the award-winning poet and ex-Coward does his utmost to undermine his subject.
Comic: Stewart Francis
DVD: Tour de Francis
Filmed: Bloomsbury Theatre, London
The show: Canada’s hottest one-line gag merchant entertains his new hometown crowd with a pile of punchlines about his Scottish wife (he’s unmarried), how he murdered his parents (he didn’t) after pleasuring himself over their wedding photo (please don’t make that true). There are some confused-looking people in the audience, perhaps bamboozled by the overwhelming punnery and occasional off-colour bon mots.
Top extra: during the post-gig q&a, Stew pokes fun at Ricky Gervais with an OTT cackle.
Comic: Richard Herring
DVD: Hitler Moustache
Filmed: Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
The show: arguably, Dickie’s finest hour and a half as he attempts to reclaim the toothbrush moustache for comedy: after all, Chaplin got there first before Hitler (and Grange Hill’s Mr Bronson). But how would the general public react to a little man wandering about with facial hair that recalls the holocaust? With surprising apathy, as it turns out. A show that succeeds in being both hilarious and oddly moving.
Top extra: the plugging of shows on the Go Faster Stripe label, with clips of more Herring, plus some choice bits of Stewart Lee, Simon Munnery and Wil Hodgson.
Comic: Greg Giraldo
DVD: Midlife Vices
Filmed: Union Square Theatre, New York
The show: a rather poignant experience this, given that Giraldo died just two months ago from an overdose of prescription drugs. You might have seen him on those Comedy Central Roasts ripping the dignity from the likes of Joan Rivers, David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson, and here he is in full flight discussing everything from the last presidential election to koala sex. A fitting testament to a stunted life and career.
Top extra: not an extra in sight, though an honorary bonus comes late in the show when Giraldo catches an audience member asleep in the third row.
Comic: Tommy Tiernan
Filmed: Vicar Street, Dublin
The show: when the 1998 Perrier Award winner plays to an Irish audience, it’s an altogether different affair from anything you’ll see in the UK with regional accents and differing attitudes across the Emerald Isle making up a large bulk of this 2003 set. The end result is a slightly muted affair, but even when Tiernan wields 80% of his powers, he’s a far better comedic proposition than most contemporary stand-ups. And he’s got killer material about being a da’.
Top extra: an excellent interview which goes some way to showing us what drives Tiernan on.
Comic: Jim Jefferies
Filmed: Lyric Theatre, London
The show: looks like hanging out in LA may well have taken the edge off the bawdy Aussie. Not that Jefferies has lost his ability to shock (if you’re a woman, you better duck for cover) but the scatological guile and wit have all but disintegrated, replaced by gratuitous bile and grime. And the gradual decreasing of his sobriety during the course of the gig gets pretty tedious and blunts his climactic tale of helping a severely disabled acquaintance lose his virginity.
Top extra: the promotional copy mercifully contained no ‘bonus’ ‘features’.
Comic: John Bishop
DVD: John Bishop Live
Filmed: Liverpool Empire
The show: a remarkably unimaginative title that one, especially given that the show is effectively a revamp of his Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominated Elvis Has Left the Building. The home crowd lap up the Scouse fella’s wholly inoffensive story (some might call it bland) about following your dreams and roughly half the gathering go wild at the footage of ‘Bish’ playing for his beloved LFC in a charity match at Anfield.
Top extra: Bishop hooks up with some genuine oddballs at the Porthcawl Elvis Festival.
Comic: Kevin Bridges
DVD: The Story So Far
Filmed: SECC, Glasgow
The show: another homecoming gig, this one from the Clydebank comic whose star has gone ballistic after appearing on that McIntyre thing. Fortunately, he has the gallus balls to back up the hype with tales of watching late night telly with his dad and stumbling upon a speedy yet unlikely fame are effortlessly amusing. And no one can argue with the introductory montage which pays homage to The Sopranos opening credits.
Top extra: the inevitable McIntyre thing clip, in which Bridges slows it right down to secure a southern fanbase.