Monday 14 November 2011

E14 Stand-Up Round-Up

Dylan Moran: Yeah, Yeah
Universal Pictures UK
Available now on DVD
Review by Rob Wade

Dylan Moran, star of Black Books, Shaun of the Dead and Run Fat Boy Run brings a brand new live DVD for 2011. Ageing, religion, kids, and relationships intertwine with the general absurdities of life.

As an E14 comedian, there are very few with the comedic CV of Dylan Moran. Star of the above movies and TV shows, all of which should really be considered required viewing, his stand-up is usually a great source of hilarity as well, as although he covers subjects which arguably should mean more to the older audience member than most, he does it in such a way that comedy fans of any age can get some enjoyment from it, mainly because he talks about things like technology with the kind of reluctance which evokes images of a cat pawing at something disdainfully.

Indeed, this DVD is no different. As is the case with many comedians, if you’ve found yourself watching previous iterations of their comedy and not enjoyed it, it’s unlikely that this one will be the one to completely change your mind, as Moran plays out his new material in much the same method as the previous tours. The new material covers similar subjects to the previous shows, such as political events, relationships and children, and is delivered with Moran’s trademark curmudgeonly fashion mixed with a dash of the madcap.

Although the show isn’t a fantastically long one, and clocks in at around an hour and twenty minutes or so, you will find yourself laughing for a tremendous portion of it. Definitely worth a look if you’re a fan of Dylan Moran, and I’d have to say that it’s worth checking out if you’ve never dabbled in his stand-up stuff at all, as it’s a good show to jump on with.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Sex/Nudity: Some references to having sex with things, mainly inanimate objects bizarrely.
Swearing: He swears plenty.
Summary: A really funny show, as you would expect from a comedian of Dylan Moran’s calibre. 8/10

Tim Minchin and the Heritage Orchestra: Live at the Royal Albert Hall
Universal Pictures UK
Available now on DVD and Blu-Ray/DVD Combo
Review by Rob Wade

Travelling the country with a 55-piece Orchestra and a band on his first UK arena tour, Tim Minchin performs his most spectacular show to over 100,000 people across the country.

In all my time appreciating comedy critically, few acts have polarised among my friends as heavily as Tim Minchin. Some can’t get on with his style. Some, like my girlfriend, I’m convinced would leave me given interest from the gawky Australian songster. Still, I’m fairly sure I’m worrying over nothing. Fairly.

The show being released this year is a particularly grand one, with the 55-piece Heritage Orchestra adding a tremendous amount of depth to the songs in his repertoire, a fair few of which are new and have not been heard before on DVD (although one song, “The Pope Song” seems to resonate with a few audience members, which makes me think that it may have circulated online a bit). It’s a format that seems to suit his style pretty well, as is the choice of venue in the Royal Albert Hall.

Indeed, the show in general is an entertaining one, and you couldn’t argue that you didn’t get your money’s worth considering that the show runs for two and a half hours. For those fans who crave new material, as I say there are a few new ones in here. Don’t expect a full hour of new tracks though, as the show is largely about adding depth to the existing favourites, many of which are improved for the experience. Maybe not quite as big a difference as when Metallica or Kiss did it, but it’s still an improvement.

The style of the show is very much in a similar vein to Minchin’s other shows, with long spoken portions between songs in Minchin’s gawky, slightly shy style. While I, as someone who likes him alright, found that the speech parts were just starting to drag a little when he’d move into his next song, for someone who isn’t a fan those monologues would be significantly more annoying.

The songs, however, are worth the perseverance, with an early number called “Cont” a particular highlight. Ultimately, if you’re willing to listen to a slightly awkward Australian man explain his parenting style (which does build to a pretty funny gag), you will find that the songs are worth the price of admission.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Sex/Nudity: He makes pretty frequent mention to genitals and sex.
Swearing: He swears a surprisingly large amount, particularly during “The Pope Song”.
Summary: If you’re not a fan, there’s going to be very little to entice you. If you’re into his shows, this is a good one to go for. 7/10

Greg Davies: Firing Cheeseballs at a Dog
Universal Pictures UK
Avaiable now on DVD and Blu-Ray/DVD Combo
Review by Rob Wade

Best known for his appearances on panel shows, as well as playing the teacher from The Inbetweeners, former teacher Greg Davies takes to the stage for his live show. What follows is a story of his mountain retreat, which consists of, you guessed it, “Firing cheeseballs at a dog”, as well as a series of stories from his life to give the audience some perspective.

It’s not hard to see that Greg Davies’ career history includes academia, particularly as his visual aid consists of a flipchart and a marker pen, as well as a series of stories about school life including audience participation. It’s even apt considering that he also ends up with a cock and balls drawn on the flipchart! This format, while slightly unorthodox, is probably one of the freshest I’ve seen. A segment on drama lessons called “Space Mission” is probably one of the funniest things I’ve seen in comedy for some time.

Davies also employs an audience member to read “pithy stories” to detract briefly from the main narrative, which keeps the flow quick and well-paced. It’s clear from his show that he’s taken the best things from his teaching position in terms of keeping interest and interacting with an audience, and his audience participation sections are hilarious both for the suggestions of the audience and Davies’ infectious laugh. Ultimately, there are comedy releases this year that you will probably be more drawn to (many of which you’ll see reviewed highly on this site this month), but actually this is probably one of the ones I’d recommend the highest.

Greg Davies has always tickled my funny bone in his other works (his appearances on Mock the Week a particular highlight for me), but that admiration has always come with a sense of wonder that maybe his stand-up might be a let-down for no discernible reason in my mind other than being let down by other comedians in the same vein in the past. However, one thing I love about being a reviewer is when I’m proven wrong, because when there are tons of good DVDs in the shops, everyone wins. Davies is a winner. His show is honest, engaging, fresh and feels like watching a superstar in the making.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Sex/Nudity: Talks a fair bit about sex at the beginning.
Swearing: Unsurprisingly, a fair bit.
Summary: A show that demonstrates the comedic talent of Davies better than any of his previous works. Superb. 9/10

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