Live comedy DVDs to fill those Christmas stockings
- Brian Donaldson
- 18 December 2017
Some last-minute Christmas ideas as we round-up a bunch of live comedy DVD releases
Sean Lock: Keep it Light
He may be sporting a new look that he describes as 'anti-selfie' and which frightens his family every single morning but, happily, Sean Lock's stand-up is the same old same old. Keep it Light (★★★★☆) proves that his longstanding appearances on all those panel shows they have now, have not blunted the semi-odd perspective he throws on life.
It's hard to imagine anyone else dreaming up his routine about taking a mumsnet fantasy to extreme lengths or coming up with an extended encore that's wildly inspired by the ludicrous price of cinema snacks. Meanwhile, Lock displays blissful ingenuity by inserting flatulence storylines into classic children's stories as a protest at David Walliams' whiffy brand of kids literature. Directed by John Gordillo, there's a welcome lack of shots (amounting pretty much to zero) of his audience having a jolly old time, as we simply focus on Lock doing his masterful thing.
Buy Keep it Light on Amazon
Adam Hills: Clown Heart
It might seem like putting a gun to the head of a rescue kitten by attacking Adam Hills aka The Most Delightful Man in Comedy, but for all its good intentions, Clown Heart (★★☆☆☆) is a woefully lacking show. Spending 25 minutes shooting the breeze with his crowd is one thing, but following up with a largely trite array of thoughts about mortality is quite another.
The Australian host of The Last Leg is more ringmaster than stand-up act as he populates a busy stage with members of his crowd for some 'romantic' shenanigans. Already, Hills is jostling for space with his BSL interpreter (there's lots of cutting away to her looking bashful as he forces her to sign some rude stuff) and later introduces us to his Aussie mate, Craig Coombes. His ongoing battle against thyroid cancer is admirable, but (bah humbug) did we really need to endure several minutes of his lame stand-up?
Buy Clown Heart on Amazon
Paul Foot: Tis a Pity She's a Piglet
In terms of crowd-pleasing, Paul Foot is as far as you can possibly get from Adam Hills. Noel Fielding's mate (what must a quiet chat over brunch between those two be like?) is the ultimate room-divider with his wilfully obscure and non-sequitur loaded stand-up leading him to cavort around his stage in a look that might be dubbed 'Brian Eno Goes to 1980s Top Man'.
With his debut live DVD, Tis a Pity She's a Piglet (★★★☆☆), he does nothing to offer an olive branch to those who might find his shtick insufferable, as he reels from subject to subject with a total lack of coherence or, in several cases, punchlines. Amid the freewheeling drivel about imagining the fate of missing audience members, raving about couples who have been married for decades and inserting his very Foot-like take on Brexit, there's a steady snowballing effect which just about rewards your patience.
Buy Tis a Pity She's a Piglet on Amazon
Festival of the Spoken Nerd: Just For Graphs
You don't actually have to be a nerd to enjoy the trio of Matt Parker, Helen Arney and Steve Mould, but it probably helps a bit. In the punningly-titled Just for Graphs (★★★☆☆), the Festival of the Spoken Nerd lot exercise an intelligent wit as they reap the benefit from years of solitude (presumably) by being brilliant at physics (Arney, Mould), the ukulele (Arney), blowing up things (Mould) and maths (Parker). Similar to generations of magicians who have attempted comedy alongside their trickery, there's something a little lacking in the Nerds' banter, leading to awkward smiles rather than anything close to a belly laugh.
Buy Just for Graphs on Amazon
Micky Flanagan: An' Another Fing
If there was a Venn Diagram of comedy fandom, it's unsure whether there'd be much crossover between admirers of the Nerds and adorers of Micky Flanagan. It seems a very long time (ten years, in fact) since the Lahndan geeza' was playing a small cellar at Edinburgh's Pleasance Courtyard as he became, at 44, the oldest ever nominee for the Best Newcomer Award. In An' Another Fing (★★☆☆☆), he wrestles with the thorny moral dilemma of being a working-class boy who is now fabulously wealthy and hangs out with an assortment of hotshot celebrity types.
Actually, 'wrestle' with it is not exactly accurate as he pretty much revels in shoving our faces in the fact that he probably now earns more money in a year than the entire attendance at this vast stadium gig put together. Namedropping the likes of Ben Stiller without actually having a story attached to their conversation is just one example of showbiz 'anecdotes' that leave a bitter taste in the mouth as he schmoozes his way around humdrum material about the time he decided to take a year off from his hectic life to the obvious annoyance of Mrs F.
Buy An' Another Fing on Amazon
Henning Wehn: Westphalia Is Not an Option
He may not have been born in Britain but London-based German comic Henning Wehn has assimilated himself fully, as he brings an outsider's eye upon the UK's daft ways. Westphalia Is Not an Option (★★★☆☆) is Wehn's way of trying to work out where Britain and Europe is heading after the EU referendum by taking a swipe at liberal guilt, analysing the true definition of 'immigrant' and poring over bizarre aspects of the citizenship test. His hour-plus set is more the beginning of a conversation rather than a definitive statement, but in these confusing times, talking to each other has to be a start.
Buy Westphalia Is Not an Option on Amazon
Dawn French: Thirty Million Minutes
Talking is something Dawn French clearly loves doing and for just under two hours, she packs thousands of words into Thirty Million Minutes (★★★★☆). Her debut solo live show is less stand-up, and more one-woman memoir as she takes us through her life (sometimes tragic, often joyful) in a wholly winning way, partly in response to a journo who French claims raked around in the gutter to pen an unauthorised biography in 2011.
As is her right, French picks and chooses the personal details she wishes to share (there's a particularly blunt section on the individual bits of her own body), and this frank and funny show should appeal to anyone who has enjoyed her work from the alternative comedy days of the Five Go Mad films to whopping mainstream success in The Vicar of Dibley.
Buy Thirty Million Minutes on Amazon.