Him off Shooting Stars.
ANGELOS EPITHEMIOU & FRIENDS: LIVE
The first thing we wondered when seeing the cover of this was whether the “& Friends” part of the title suggested Renton Skinner would be spending much of the runtime showing off other, less interesting comic creations of his. Luckily for those who have enjoyed his turns alongside Vic and Bob, it’s Angelos all the way on this disc. The ‘friends’ in question tend to be the acquaintances of Epithemiou’s from his supposed everyday life, pictures of whom occasionally flash up on the screen at the back of the stage as we’re told about their antics.
It has been said that Angelos is another example of a comedian lazily mocking disability (cf. The Morgana Show, Gervais circa monggate), but we wouldn’t really go with that. If anything, he plays a slightly naive eccentric who lives in his own version of the world, and the version of the world he’s created for himself is one where he’s the winner at everything. Much like Frank Sidebottom only without the songs or head, and a tad more world-weariness.
Aside from all that, you might be wondering just how a full gig compares to the short bursts of Angelos Epithemiou in Shooting Stars. Pretty well, in fact. If you’re looking to us for a half-baked comparison, it’s not a million miles away from the live shows of Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out. Angelos’ DJ rig is decorated in much the same curious manner as the desk in Big Night Out (there’s even a horsebrass on it), and there’s even a great bit of That’s Justice-ish audience member participation in his ‘game show’ Epithemiou or Bust. While it doesn’t quite hit the heights of that slice of early 90s gold, it’s as close as you’re likely to get to such demented whimsy nowadays, and it’ll be interesting to see how this DVD performs against other more traditional stand-ups.
It’s commendable how Renton Skinner manages to keep in character throughout, even during parts of the audience Q&A where people ask funny questions that get a huge response from the rest of the crowd. He even remains in character at that most annoying occurrence at a DVD-record gig, a couple of selfish oafs in the front row walking out with about three minutes of the gig left.
Overall impressions, then – if you enjoyed his performance in Shooting Stars (or on Never Mind The Buzzcocks the other night), you’ll almost definitely find this DVD an enjoyable way to spend 85 minutes of your winter (or summer if you’re reading this while wondering if you should be buying it from a sale seven months from now). If you’re unconvinced about him, try to give it a watch anyway – being drawn into the world of Angelos properly will let you make up your mind about him properly. Only a few of his gags (such as they are) appeared in Shooting Stars, and they’re pretty much the weaker ones. And he doesn’t do any of the rubbish stuff about Ulrika, because, well, she’s not there. CAVEAT: If you hate comedy where there aren’t any proper jokes or anything, you’ll hate this. If anyone you know has bought you this for Christmas, it’s probably their way of telling you they hate you. You misery.
Us? We really enjoyed it. We certainly found ourselves laughing out loud more often than with most of the DVDs we’ve looked at so far, which puts it pretty high up in our SPECIAL REVAMPED LEAGUE TABLE WHICH ACCOUNTS FOR OVERALL QUALITY RATHER THAN JUST SIMPLE ORDERING.
SAMPLE GAG: “If you find yourself in France, don’t panic. Just lie down on the floor, curl up in a ball, and wait for rescue.”