As God said on page 23 of The Bible, “it’s a crazy old world, eh?” When we posted five minutes from an early 1980s episode of World Of Sport on YouTube a few years back, it was yanked off by unseen powers citing copyright badness within weeks. Yet, when people throw complete films and TV shows up there, they’re allowed to exist peacefully for years without getting yanked from the digital mantelpiece. Weird, hey?
One thing that we’re slightly surprised to find on there – entire stand-up sets from top comedians. Entire days worth of observations about airlines, right there for you to watch RIGHT NOW. Here are six of the most interesting you might not have seen before.
EDDIE IZZARD LIVE AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN (2011)
Like many right-minded people, you may have given up on Eddie Izzard’s stand-up around the time of Sexie, which was pretty uninspired. He has been starting to regain his form of late, mind – as this set from 2011 shows. Taking in much material from his Stripped tour (and DVD release), as far as we know, the recording of this particular performance wasn’t released commercially, but rather broadcast on US channel Epix. So there you go, you now need feel about 17% less guilty about watching the above presumably unauthorised stream.
If you prefer to revisit Eddie’s earlier work, but don’t own the brilliant MMVI boxset (you berk), many are also available on Y’Tube. Such as Glorious, Live at the Ambassadors and the last good tour before he went rubbish for a bit, Circle. But then buy that boxset – the brilliant extras therein make it worth the price alone, really.
BILL MAHER – CRAZY STUPID POLITICS (2012)
Live from Silicon Valley, no less. “A Yahoo! exclusive”, the on-screen graphic claims. Now, that mention of Yahoo! might make you assume this set is from 1997, so you’ll be surprised at references to Jeremy Lin, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, and other people you’ll possibly only have heard of thanks to watching The Daily Show. This is indeed a pretty recent set, dating from that crazy seven minutes in early 2012 when Newt Gingrich looked like a realistic contender for the GOP presidential ticket.
Other things you need to know about this set: ONE – if you don’t like US politics, this isn’t for you. TWO – if you love hearing unbleeped swearing, this isn’t for you. THREE – if you are interested in US politics but believe that Fox News actually peddles in zany concepts like ‘truth’ and ‘facts’, this isn’t for you. FOUR – if you’re reading this blog entry more than a year from now, you might not remember too many of the people mentioned in it, which with the US Presidential Primaries system pretty much being the world’s oldest reality show. Which means it also might not be for you. Oh, and also for people of 2013 onwards – Yahoo! was an early web startup that still existed as late as 2012. Yeah, we know!
For those of us who are left – it’s an hour of wry political riffing from that guy in the live-action sequence of that episode of Family Guy where Brian writes a self-help book.
DOUG STANHOPE – DEADBEAT HERO (2004)
A really nice find, this one. A full set, ripped straight from a DVD so hard the interactive menu is on there, from Doug “And That’s Why I Drink” Stanhope.
Not for the easily offended, but hey! People who are easily offended are dicks. Apologies to anyone who may have been offended by that previous sentence.
RICHARD PRYOR – LIVE AND SMOKIN’ (1971)
Make it through the annoying modern-day editing at the start, and you’ll get to enjoy a set performed at The Improvisation Nightclub in April 1971 by the great Richard Pryor. At the time, Pryor was still perfecting his metamorphosis from clean-cut, network-friendly talk show comic to the Angry N-word Spouting Comedy Trailblazer, and we think that comes across quite well here. Not quite as confident as he was at his very best, but you get the feeling his confidence grows as the performance goes on.
Also worth seeking out are the full episodes of The Richard Pryor Show on YouTube (episode one here), his 1977 series that proved a little too tempestuous for a timid NBC, who cancelled it after just four episodes. While not all of it holds up brilliantly by modern-day standards, the fact it got aired at all – in an 8pm slot, no less - is pretty damn commendable. Compare the freedom with which Pryor gets to use the word ‘nigger’ here, with the circumstances in which derivatives of the word were thrown around during ITV sitcoms of the 1970s.
LENNY BRUCE: A PERFORMANCE FILM (1966)
Never mind all the clips you’ve seen inbetween shots of Phill Jupitus nodding earnestly while interviewing an elderly New Jersey comic promoter on BBC Two, here’s a chance to see an hour of uninterrupted Lenny Bruce at his angriest. (Reader’s voice: “It’s rubbish. He doesn’t even talk about losing his keys or Jim’ll Fix It or man drawers or anything.”)
DAVE CHAPPELLE – KILLIN’ EM SOFTLY (2000)
It’s a damn shame Dave Chappelle never seemed to get the acclaim he deserved in the UK. Chappelle’s Show got some airings on FX UK around the time it launched, and the brilliant “blind KKK leader doesn’t realise that he’s black” sketch from it cropped up in the post-Red Nose Day clip show at about 2am on BBC One a year or so previously, but that seems to have been about it. Oh, and he got mentioned by Ricky Gervais in an episode of Extras, though that was part of an excuse by Gervais to take a cheap and unfair shot at Lenny Henry, so it doesn’t really count.
So, why not remedy that now by watching this HBO stand-up set from 2000?