Live Comedy DVDs Roundup
Featuring Lee Mack, Richard Herring, Al Murray, Jon Richardson, Jim Davidson and Harry Hill
If ever there was evidence to suggest that some people should just leave their past glories well alone, it’s right there, deep inside Harry Hill: Sausage Time (●●). While you can’t help but admire the nerve of a 50-year-old man jumping up and down on a mattress while singing songs from Hair, boundless energy isn’t always enough to cover up threadbare material.
The slightly odd canned feel to the laughter may tell its own tale, even though he does receive a (prompted) standing ovation. Given that he’s in Leeds, perhaps it was inevitable that Hill would make some reference to Jimmy Savile, but this routine is as regrettable and ill-advised as most of this very (very) long 80-minute show.
If anyone deserves to be miffed at Savile, it’s the anti-PC brigade’s poster boy. In Jim Davidson: No Further Action (●●), the former Big Break host gets quite a lot off his chest about his many run-ins down the years with the old bill, culminating in a shambolic investigation by the Yewtree crew. Filmed in Shrewsbury, this is relentlessly old-school stuff in which Davidson delves into his Scottish heritage with endless impersonations of his alcoholic dad. While many commentators during his Fringe run admired Davidson’s technique, it’s surely not enough to cover up the blemishes of the lowest common denominator that his material sinks to time after time.
More happy with his lot these days is Jon Richardson: Nidiot (●●●). While he appears to have found true love, this doesn’t stop him from being a 24/7 neurotic, whose hatred for humanity results in some funny swipes at everyone from Boris Johnson, a drunk girl on a train and (mainly) himself. Al Murray: One Man, One Guvnor (●●●) is on a mission to save Britain from itself, but the comedic magic he once had at his fingertips appears to be as trapped in the past as the Pub Landlord’s socio-political worldview.
After tackling religion, politics, love, ageing and the male member, Richard Herring: We’re All Going to Die (●●●) has a stab at mortality. This excellent hour-long Fringe show isn’t quite as compelling when stretched to almost 90 minutes, but Herring is never a dull act, and he’s always capable of finding fresh nooks and crannies on a much-discussed subject. His traditional over-analysis of a text zooms in on Hamlet’s ‘whiny’ soliloquy and the ‘Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly’, while he amusingly spends far too much time dreaming up potential pun headlines about his own demise.
The best of this bunch is Lee Mack: Hit the Road Mack (●●●●). While his forename-sake, Mr Evans, opted for a DVD performance lasting over two hours, Mack’s show calls time at just over the hour-mark. But any suggestion he might be short-changing the punters can be set aside by the fact he piles in winning gag after winning gag. There’s nothing edgy or especially contemporary about this northern comic: he is quite simply a first-class entertainer with cheek and verve oozing from his funny bones.