Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Yule (B)log 2010: Comedy DVD Round-Up (1)


Yes, yes, we’re aware that updates have been sporadic recently. We even missed the 5th anniversary of the site going live. Rest assured, when BrokenTV’s tenth birthday rolls around, we’ll probably Photoshop a party hat onto the logo or something. But anyway, it’s December, and that means we pledge to do a blog update EVERY! SINGLE! DAY! until the 25th. Could 2010 be the year we make it beyond the 12th before breaking that promise? We’ve got a positive feeling about it, put it that way.


It seems that each year, there’s one type of DVD-based gift that dominates the last-minute-stocking-filler market. A few years ago, it was the football blooper compilation fronted by an annoying  celebrity craze. More recently, we had the Interactive DVD Quiz Game fad, which seemingly lasted until the manufacturers realised they could just shove their half-arsed licenced quizzes onto the Wii instead, and sell them at double the price.

This year, it seems to be stand-up comedy DVDs receiving their very own shelf in your local Tesco Ultrastore, which is, in theory, a marked improvement over, ooh, “Danny Dyer’s Funniest Football Foul-Ups” or something. Ha! Can you imagine if someone was still bringing out rubbish like tha… oh. Oh dear. (“Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,147 in DVD”)

Where were we? Ah yes. Stand-up comedy has always been around in a variety of recorded formats, both audio and visual, ever since the wax cylinder of Thomas Edison’s “Quadruplex Teleg-laughs!!!” first hit Manhattan stores in 1884, but this year has seen a non-literal explosion of them, with more stand-up comedy DVDs released in the run up to Christmas 2010 than at any previous point in recorded history. Citation needed.

In our first Yule (B)log of 2010, we take a look at a few of them, and tell you which ones you should consider. JOIN US.


Frankie Boyle Live: If I Could Reach Out Through Your TV and Strangle You I Would

Channel 4 DVD
Amazon Sales Rank (DVD): 21



We used to like Frankie Boyle. There aren’t many reasons to go anywhere near BBC Two when Mock The Week is being broadcast on it, but Boyle made it worth occasionally sitting through the lobe-molesting delivery of Andy Parsons’ topical observations. Yes, a lot of his jokes were expressly written with the intent of shocking the kind of people who write letters to mid-market tabloids, but they were interspersed with standard panel show fare like “anyone who’s been to Middlesbrough will know that living to 53 is maybe a bit long. Sort of like Blade Runner without the special effects.”

Sadly, at some point, Boyle realised that he could make just as much money by making the majority of his jokes about rape, paedophilia, Susan Boyle and Josef Fritzl, pausing only to charmlessly insult audience members. By the time of his “I Would Happily Punch Every One Of You In The Face” tour, a performance from which makes up this DVD, he does little else.

The end result, well, you know the two scenes with the little girl in the red coat from Schindler’s List? Imagine that, only repeated over and over and over as if it were a Holocaust-themed version of Wario Ware, the soundtrack being nought but increasingly heavy use of a swannee whistle, and you’ve pretty much got Frankie Boyle’s new DVD summed up right there. When something shocking proves to be unexpected, even in an already brazenly impolite context, it needs to sneak up on you for it to have any real impact. When you’re left with what is effectively a Scotsman shouting the word ‘cunt’ at a photo of a kitten for eighty minutes, no matter how good a few of the jokes are, it’s hard to summon up the energy to keep caring.

Oh, and if you’re watching his new Channel Four series and are hoping to get this DVD for Christmas – there’s a good chance you’ll have heard all the material on it used in the series by that point. Though we suspect not many people will bother reaching the end of Tramadol Nights, what with it being utterly woeful.


Ricky Gervais Live IV – Science

Universal Pictures UK
Amazon Bestsellers Rank (DVD): 39


As we all saw in “Ricky Gervais Meets Garry Shandling”, Gervais can’t take a joke when it’s made at his own expense, but can he still make them?

After the two most recent live DVDs from the 11 O’Clock Show star proved to be a little on the disappointing side – especially after ‘Animals’ showed how good a stand-up he can be – we weren’t expecting too much from this. Pleasingly, ‘Science’ is a bit of a return to form for the star of BBC Two reality show ‘Celebrity Boxing’. It isn’t quite up to the level of ‘Animals’, and the parts where he refers to how rich and successful he is (in that “aah, I’m being ironic though, even though I’m not” manner of his) still grate as much as ever, but this performance will generate more laughs than “Politics” and “Fame” combined.



Tim Vine - Punslinger Live

Spirit Entertainment Limited
Amazon Bestsellers Rank (DVD): 340


“I don’t like Lion Bars. They’re such unwelcoming places.”

In a year where at least 95% of stand-up comedy DVDs seem bound by law to make the same jokes about Michael Jackson’s death (most common joke: that everyone has been making jokes about it since it happened), we possibly need Tim Vine more than ever. Now that Harry Hill seems to have given up live performances in favour of phoning it in on TV Burp (hasn’t the latest series been rubbish?), there’s only one real choice for a comedy DVD that the whole family really can enjoy while waiting for this year’s Christmas pudding to cool. Provided you’re suitably persuasive in arguing that Tim Vine really is much, much funnier than Michael McIntyre, of course. Because Tim Vine isn’t as popular as he really deserves to be.

Sure, in isolation, many of his one-liners might not seem to be that great (“The Archbishop of Canterbury came up to me, he said ‘you’re excommunicated!’ I thought an old girlfriend had sent me an email”), but thrown at you like relentless handfuls of comedy gravel, you can’t help but find a daft grin form beneath your nose. Very often, you’ll find that grin developing into a chuckle, if only with incredulity at the occasions where he’ll try to pull off an especially clattery pun while on stage in front of people who’ve paid to be there. Even throughout the weaker gags, you’ll still find yourself smiling, mainly because as performers go, Tim Vine is pretty much impossible to hate. He even has the good grace to seem genuinely surprised when the crowd call for an encore at the end.

The only downside to the disc is that the main performance is a bit on the short side, at a tadge over an hour. Of course, with it being Tim Vine set, this does mean you’ve got a few hundred jokes crammed tightly into that hour, but we’d really like him to pad things out by including some of his older gems. Going by the reaction of the crowd in this performance, you can’t help but feel they’d feel the same. After all, if it’s good enough for Ken Dodd...

Petty griping aside, Punslinger is a hugely enjoyable way to spend an hour of your festive break. The rapidfire delivery of unrelated gags mean that even if you’ve been momentarily distracted by a hunt for that elusive After Eight envelope still containing a wafer-thin treat, you can rejoin the fun without having to ask whoever’s nearest the remote to hit the rewind button. Splendid.



4 .:

Applemask said...

Ricky Gervais is the Kanye West of comedy: a prick and a twat, but a very talented pricktwat, so I generally tolerate the both of them.

Frankie Boyle...he's not very good at writing comics either. He writes "Rex Royd" for Mark Millar's CLiNT comic-o-magazine (Millar's another one who sometimes forgets that sheer nastiness doesn't necessarily justify itself, but he's still better at it than Boyle). Apart from the fact that he clearly has no idea how comic storytelling works, and actually hasn't succeeded in telling a story at all in three issues, he's peppering it all yet again with brutal and shocking moments that don't mean dick because they're not happening in a compelling or well-realised world. In the last issue, the antihero blew Batman's head off. Before that there was a flashback to the Garden of Eden, where God was raping Eve from behind, before being murdered by the same antihero. Jonathan Ross' comic runs before Boyle's. It's much better.

Applemask said...

Sorry, punched Batman's head off. Not personally.

Mark X said...

I bought ish 3 of Clint as it was the first one I've actually seen on sale anywhere, and indeed, F Boyle's strip is pretty poor. I'm probably never going to bother buying it again, so I'd hope that compilations of KickAss 2 and American Jesus get released at some point. From what I saw of J Ross' comic, I wasn't overly fussed though. Were parts one and two any better?

Applemask said...

Kick-Ass II will inevitably be out in trade before long, and American Jesus already is (it's a reprint of a comic he did for Vertigo Comics a couple of years ago that no-one bought because there were ice ages between the issues). I definitely reccomend getting American Jesus at some stage. You have to read it twice anyway.

Turf part three is actually the second half of part two, so it would have had zero impact to anyone who hasn't read the first two chunks. It's pretty good, though. Ross writes too much dialogue and too little motion, but he understands comics a damn sight better than Boyle.

You may buy it again, at gunpoint, if by some chance I get a story accepted for "Space Oddities". Because I will command you to buy it.

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