It’s that time again. Christmas-time. And Here I am with the annual round-up of Top Ten Comedy DVDs, helping you make those difficult Christmas present choices.

This is how it works: The Top Ten is taken from today’s Amazon Stand-Up comedy recommendations. I’ve not watched any of them. I don’t read anything about them (not even the Amazon blurb). I look at the covers and come to unfair conclusions. I’ll say the same as last year: “Yes, I am judging a comedy DVD by its cover.”

Here goes, counting down from ten to one.

10: Henning Wehn

Henning Wehn

Henning Wehn

It looks like we’re off to a good start. Henning is “a superb social commentator” with “great likeability”…. Woaaaaahhhh! Hold your horses! He’s only gone and said that about himself! Where’s the quotes from The Sun, or the guardian, or anyone else. Ah! There is a quote from Everybody Else! He’s “that German bloke”.

There’s a clue to his Germanness (Germanity? Germanicity?) in the title Eins, Zwei, DIY. And we can also tell that this is a DVD of his live show from the use of the word “Live”. As far as titles go, I like puns, and this made me laugh. But then I laughed a little less when I remembered a similar comedic use of the 123 thing from a German zombie film a few years back.

dead snow

Ein! Zwei! With my little eye!

Still, it’s a good start to our Top Ten. And Henning looks like Frank Skinner in a never-made Ronnie Barker shop sitcom called Spanner’s Manor, where Frank/Ronnie/Henning would have played Sam Spanner, a DIY shop owner who’s a private dick on the side.

Henning’s DVD is a 15 certificate, shown twice (once in blue, once in red) making it suitable for 30 year olds. It is available on Amazon for £10.

9: Dylan Moran

dylan moran

Dylan Moran

There’s going to be a pattern here with the certificates. Why they have to do it twice is anyone’s guess. Globalisation or something.

Anyway, this is Dylan Moran. Live. It’s called Off the Hook. No one knows why. Here’s some suggestions: Dylan has been let ‘off the hook’ by someone… a family member? The police?; the DVD has a fishing theme; it’s a bit like Off the Pegg– a not-yet-made one joke-fits-all fest by funnyman Simon Pegg; It’s a DVD of jokes stolen from New Order funnyman Peter Hook; it has no meaning.

Dominic Cavendish, from The Telegraph, says: “This show makes the world seem a better place”. It may well be deliberate but I have no idea what that means. He does give it four stars though, and that is good.

Unidentified writers from the guardian, The Times, and the Evening Standard also give the show four stars. One must assume that, unlike the brazenly out there Dominic Cavendish, these other writers are spies.

Nevertheless, it gives the DVD a total of 16 stars. That means it is good and funny. You can get it at Amazon for £10.

8: Alan Carr

alan carr

Alan Carr

15 + 15. This is Yap, Yap, Yap! Live. It is described by Guardian (not the guardian, so really, it could be anyone!) as “Hooting jabberfest”. (What in hell’s name has happened to the definite and indefinite articles here? Have they gone on holiday for Christmas?)

Anyway, let’s get to the point. Dogs yap, owls hoot. I’m guessing Alan is an animal impersonator. Available for £9.79.

7: Chris Ramsey

Chris Ramsey

Chris Ramsey

15 x 2. Lots of info here. It’s Live. And you get a full-length bonus show thrown in too. It’s All Growed Up, which means… it’s not… ’cause it’s said in baby talk. And Chris is holding a microphone made out of Lego (I wonder if he had to buy it, like Ai Weiwei?) It’s “Stand-Up gold” too (from the proper the guardian). So, everything’s looking good for this one, except…

“Frighteningly talented… tearing up every stage he lands on.” GQ

This is really worrying. Why does he land on stages? Has he only ever performed in Miss Saigon? Is he an alien? And then why on earth would he tear them up? Has he a Hulk complex?

And how is he managing to lean on a blue sticker that isn’t a sticker at all but they’ve still gone and made it curl up at the edges to try and fool us into thinking it is a sticker after all?

Putting aside these worries and doubts, Chris’ video takes us back up to the £10 mark.

6: Bill Bailey

bill bailey

Bill Bailey

It’s a first this year! A 12 certificate DVD. 12 + 12 = 24. Fun for (most of) all the family!

You know where you are with this one. “Sublime hilarity” and “Blissfully funny”… from proper papers. And then there’s jokes on top! The big joke is the plug pun (it made me laugh). The smaller joke is the “high voltage comedy” bit. And the surreal joke is the tick showing that the DVD is “approved by most goverments” (I’m guessing that the missing ‘n’ is a joke I am missing out on, rather than a spelling mistake).

And you get three DVDs for £10.57!

5: Paul Chowdhry

Paul Chowdry

Paul Chowdry

Man, this one gives me the heebiegeebies!

Seriously, what gives? “Imperiously on top of his game”? Is that good? From the Mail on Sunday too? maybe it’s a spoof. Five stars though. and another five from the Daily Mirror to show that he’s cool on the left too. No quote from them, but the stars are adding up. Ten stars so far.

But then Eastern Eye lets Paul down. No stars and “Dangerous comic genius”. Dangerous? What!? Surely a comedian to be avoided?

Imperious? Dangerous? Genius? Is he after a part in the next Bond film?

But, ever fond of the cheaper stuff, PC’s World is funny.

As a little aside; when me and Trev worked on Going Live! and Live & Kicking our producer, David Mercer, was responsible for deciding if  our content was acceptable/broadcastable. At times, he could be harsh on us (or so we thought), and so, in the face of BBC right-on thinking, we would always sing the same song at him. And it went like this; “Where in the world? David Mercer’s PC World”. That’s all. Not even funny. It just stuck. But if you ever meet him, do sing it to/at him.

Back to the £10 DVD.

4: Michael McIntyre

Michael McIntyre

Michael McIntyre

You knew he’d turn up. What would the Top Ten be without him? If anything, it’s scandalous he hasn’t made the Top Three!

No newspaper quotes here, because he doesn’t need them. “The record-breaking comedian returns with his brand new show!” A brand new show! It’s a shame they don’t tell us what record(s) he has broken. I’m going to plump for World’s Greatest Curtain Peeper.

It’s Live at The 02 Arena (does it have red curtains?) It’s called Happy and Glorious but where’s the trademark McIntyre smile?  If anything, he’s looking sneaky. As if he’s about to rob the 02. With a prosthetic hand.

Long to reign over us. 15 + 15. £10.

3: Dara O Briain

Dara o Briain

Dara O Briain

Here’s Dara O Briain spoofing a Phrenology Head, looking a little like the third of the Three Wise Monkeys. “Devilishly sharp” says Metro. What’s devilishly sharp? Dara? The scalpel that separates the sections of the brain? A Kitchen Devil knife?

Look closely and you’ll see what to expect: audience chat, highbrow, lowbrow, Gloria Estefan, Not bumping into things. Oh, and a formula I don’t understand, and gags! Gags! Right by his left eye.

Crowd Tickler. Ken Doddish? £10.

2: John Bishop

John Bishop

John Bishop

Possibly the most understandable cover amongst the lot. John Bishop. Live. At The Royal Albert Hall. “Britain’s top comic”, the Daily Mirror.

But hang on… Supersonic Live? Supersonic? As in Syd Little? I guess this is John’s tribute to Cyril Mead, the Little half of Little and Large, always referred to by Edward McGinnis, the Large half of Little and Large, as Supersonic. It’s a nice touch. And always welcome to see the new wave of comedy acknowledge the old wave. Or whatever.

Nice arrows. 30 year olds. £7.99! Cheapest so far! (unless you price Bill Bailey’s per disc).

And so to Number One. The Top DVD on Amazon today! Beating “Britain’s Top Comic”! Who can it be?

1: Kevin Bridges

Kevin Bridges

Kevin Bridges

It’s Kevin Bridges! “Kevin Bridges might just become the best stand-up comedian in the land” says The Times. That’s … ummm… treading carefully. Might just become!? “Kevin Bridges might just become the best replacement Letter I on the cover of his DVD in the land”. Me.

Perhaps comedians just like to have a laugh with the newspaper quotes. Or perhaps Kevin can’t bring himself to do the usual cheeky trick; the one where you go – “Kevin Bridges… the best stand-up comedian in the land”.

It’s A Whole Different Story… Live 2015 . There’s also one of those stickers that aren’t stickers (though at least this one isn’t fake peeling) stating that the DVD “also includes Kevin’s set from BBC1’s Live at The Referendum”. Like Live at The Apollo I guess, but I have no idea where The Referendum is. It might be in Scotland.

I feel distracted. Is there a big I behind Kevin, or is he a human I? And has he got his hands in his pockets to stop McIntyre prosthetic hand syndrome? £10.

Come back tomorrow and we’ll do some polling. Have your say. Which are the best covers, which the worst. Voting commences tomorrow.

Over the past few years, in the build up to Christmas, I have been reviewing the Top Ten Comedy DVDs to help you make those difficult Christmas present choices. I’ve left it a bit late this year, but here goes: all ten in one go.

And here (for those new to this exercise in futility) are the rules: The Top Ten is taking from today’s Amazon Stand-Up comedy recommendations. I’ve not watched any of them. I don’t read anything about them. I merely look at the covers (pictures of the covers) and come to undoubtedly unfair conclusions. Yes, I am judging a comedy DVD by its cover.

That’s it. Happy shopping. Let’s countdown!

10: Nina Conti

Nina conti 2

Nina Conti

Nina Conti is “Brilliantly funny, outrageously hilarious”. But we don’t know who said this. Perhaps it was her dad, the Liverpool boxer John Conti.

It’s a “live” DVD but I cannot tell you where from. The show is called “Dolly Mixtures”. I remember Dolly Mixtures from my childhood. They were/are sweets. Nina’s teeth are perfect suggesting she doesn’t eat them, or she brushes well. Her smile is rigid. If I were Sherlock Holmes I would put this with the puppets below and conclude that she is a ventriloquist with a penchant for confectionery nostalgia. Suitable for 15 year olds and above.

9: Harry Hill

Harry Hill

Harry Hill

No. 9 is Harry Hill. He is the “Lord of Misrule” and this is his return to stand up. It is also a “Brand New Live Show”. Unlike Nina’s we know the location of this live show. It is Leeds. The show is called “Sausage Time” and the cover suggests the sausages that are taking up the time are meat sausages and also “sausage” dogs; dogs resembling sausages in shape alone.

This DVD is suitable for anyone above the age of 12.

8: Frank Skinner

Frank Skinner

Frank Skinner

Well now, this is fascinating. It’s that rare thing in the world of stand-up comedy DVD cover art; something that looks, almost, well… designed. As if someone has put some thought into it.

Here’s what we know for sure. It’s Frank Skinner “live”. Location unknown. The show is called “Man in a Suit”. The comedy comes from Frank being in a suit and a suit alone. No shirt, no tie. We cannot see, but I guess he has no shoes too. It’s traditional, it’s subversive. And possibly a little Christ-like.

The Mirror (representing the ordinary left-wing folk) call it “A masterclass in stand-up”. The Telegraph (representing the extraordinary right-wing folk) call it “Outrageously funny”. Something for everyone. Over 15.

And if you think you’ve seen that cover somewhere before, try this for size.

Frank Scanner

Frank Scanner

7: Roy Chubby Brown

Roy Chubby Brown

Roy Chubby Brown

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

18 and over.

6: Jim Davidson

Jim Davidson

Jim Davidson

Jim Davidson is “Back and Live”. We don’t know where he is live, or where he is back from. The quote from The Mirror (none from The Telegraph here) says “Standing ovation to packed houses every night” so perhaps Jim did a door to door tour.

The DVD is subtitled “No further action”, which is, I assume, an Operation Yewtree reference. Jim also reveals the “Unseen story of Celebrity Big Brother”, unseen by any who didn’t watch it.

He stands, cheekily, clutching his mic like a big cock whilst hiding his other hand in his pants! Spotlights play over his groin area, saucily. It’s a 15 and over affair.

5: Al Murray

Al Murray

Al Murray

Covers don’t come any better than this. It’s a work of art with something for everyone. Firstly, Al is painted. Take a close look; he could be by Michael Sowa, or a painteralike. That pint of beer is a masterpiece waiting to appear in an unwritten Paul Heaton drinking song.

Look at that maroon strip along the bottom; worthy of the discontinued range of HD DVDs (the ones that lost out in the 2008 BluRay/HD DVD war). It’s an all-new live show. We don’t know where, but look! A bonus is a full-length live show from somewhere we do know; Edinburgh.

The Times says; “Murray is on exuberant form, splashing the audience with both his beer and his ideas”. Yes, it’s an odd quote, but no doubt well meant.

The cover references the Carlo Goldoni classic, “Servant of Two Masters” (aka One Man, Two Guvnors”) and there is an added joke in the subtitle “20 years at the lager top”.

It is suitable for 15 years olds and it is 20 past one.

4: Still Game

Still Game

Still Game

I’m a little clueless on this one, but I think it may be Harry and Paul.

15 year olds welcome.

3: Jack Whitehall

Jack Whitehall

Jack Whitehall

Ah! Jack Whitehall! Frankly, I’ve never heard of him, but he must be a big cheese because he is “Live from Wembley Arena”. That’s a big place.

Going off his hi-tech microphone it’s possible that he may be connected in some way or another with Justin Bieber.

Minimal research shows that he is the son of someone.

15.

2: Russell Howard

Russell Howard

Russell Howard

Sorry folks. I’m really letting you down now. I haven’t a clue. Possibly Jack Whitehall’s son?

This guy could be an illusionist. He’s performing a ‘trick’ on the cover, making it look like he can hoverfloat a cup of coffee. Closer inspection shows that he is lying on the floor, shot from overhead.

This is “Wonderbox” live. We don’t know where live. My research yields no results for Wonderbox. I will have to hazard a guess that his Wonderbox is where he keeps his rabbits and his silk handkerchiefs.

Suitable for ages 15 and under.

1: Lee Mack

Lee Mack

Lee Mack

And back on dry land once again. I know where I am now. “Slick, sharp and very funny” Time Out says. Swearing too, which is good. But clearly no “cunts” as it is a 15 certificate.

It’s your traditional comedy cover, right down to missing foot behind a big ‘C’. Well done Lee.

But which is your favourite (and least favourite)?

Remember, play by the rules. Don’t pick your favourite comedian. Pick your favourite cover. Then least favourite.

 

 

 

 

 

All ten DVD covers have been reviewed… and one bogus one that sneaked in at the last minute as a result of Amazon’s Top Ten changing so radically between the 11th December and the 20th! Who knew Amazon could fiddle around with their lists so much; seemingly basing best on sales? Click here to catch up on yesterday’s Number 1.

And now it’s your turn. Three polls to vote in. Firstly, the best cover. Then, the worst cover. And, finally, the funniest.

Here’s a quick reminder of the contenders:

Comedy gala 2013

10- Channel 4’s Comedy Gala 2013

Peter Kay 2013

9- Peter Kay double pack

Kevin Bridges

8- Kevin Bridges: The Full Story boxset

Jimmy Carr

7- Jimmy Carr: Laughing and Joking

eddie izzard

6- Eddie Izzard: Force Majeure

Sean Lock

5- Sean Lock: Purple Van Man

Jack dee

4- Jack Dee: So What?

Bill Bailey

3- Bill Bailey: Qualmpeddler

Greg Davies

2- Greg Davies: The back of my Mum’s Head

Micky Flanagan

1- Micky Flanagan: The ‘Back in the Game’ Tour

And here’s the polls:

And for the last one, since a comedy gala has an unfair advantage, I have removed it and replaced it with yesterday’s surprise No. 1 choice on Amazon, Jethro!

I’m reviewing the Top Ten Comedy DVD’s (taken from a search on Amazon), but with a trick. I’m not watching them. I’m not even reading about them. I merely looking at the covers (pictures of the covers) and coming to undoubtedly unfair conclusions. It’s a service I’m offering to help you with those last minute Christmas presents.

Yesterday I looked at numbers 3 and 4. In fourth place was grumpy Jack Dee. In third place was becalmed Bill Bailey.

Who’ll be in second place? And will they be a smiler or a scowler? Here goes…

Greg Davies

Greg Davies Live: The back of my Mum’s head

It’s Greg Davies! And he’s…  scowling? Or squinting? Possibly pondering.

As far as covers go this one is a winner, only bettered so far by Bill Bailey’s barmy army cover. It looks good, there’s outsider art involved, and it presents us with a mystery: why has Greg decided to turn his back on the view? Is he doing it to spite his Mum? And what is he looking at with his one eye? And why’s he called it The back of my Mum’s head? And is that his Mum? And if it is his Mum, is it his real Mum or a ‘stage Mum’? And why is he wearing a huge blue badge telling us he is “one of this country’s best comedians?”

That’s the one part of the cover I hate. I can’t tell for sure but it looks printed on rather than being a sticker you can peel off, and that makes it just a little bit worse. Someone (maybe Greg, maybe not) designed this cover and made it as good as they could and then someone else (a marketing idiot) came along and said:

“Hey guys…”

(The kind of person who says ‘guys’ to everyone regardless of gender)

“Hey guys, I’m not really sure this cover sells Greg as well as it could. After all, he is one of this country’s best comedians, can’t we find a quote from somewhere that helps get that point across?”

The quote is found and the marketing idiot tells someone else to make it look like a big sticker stuck on the front of the DVD. And this someone else, who has no power, tries to suggest it will look shit and it will ruin the cover. And the marketing idiot, thinking they are being creative, adopts a pose not unlike Greg’s, pretends to think, and then declares “make it blue, so it matches the blue of the sky!” And the marketing idiot barks a laugh and shouts out “”That’s blue sky thinking for you” and everyone pretends to laugh and a cover is destroyed.

Two 15 certificates. Suitable for 30 year olds.

Tomorrow, number 1.

it’s the countdown of the Top Ten comedy DVD’s! It started yesterday! It’s fun! And it overuses exclamation marks!

Yesterday we kicked of with number 10- Channel 4’s Comedy Gala 2013!

The rules are simple. I’ve picked the Top Ten from Amazon. I don’t watch them. I simply judge the DVD’s by their cover. This may, or may not, help you sort out your Christmas pressies.

So… here we go with number 9. And it is…

Peter Kay 2013

Peter Kay Double Bumper Comedy Compilation

This is a fascinating cover. Without having a copy of it in my hands I’m going to hazard a guess that the outer box is made of leather with embossed gold leaf lettering. Inserted into this almost Biblical presentation are two smaller DVD covers showing Peter Kay at his chirpiest best (the comedians fall into two categories- grumpy or smiley- and Peter Kay is one of the smiliest, currently rating 4th Smiliest Comedian in the Land).

(I cannot help but think of a high court judge seemingly reading The Times during his lunch break only for his cover to slip and reveal he is actually smiling at a topless beauty in The Sun. Or perhaps something even cheekier; a copy of Knave found under a bush in the park as he cycled into work, or a Donald McGill postcard of someone holding a garlic baguette in silhouette and a passing mother superior mistaking it for a cock.)

This is a Double Bumper Comedy Compilation including a previously unreleased documentary entitled Stand and Deliver. I have no details on the documentary, but, going off the title alone, it’s likely to be a documentary about Stuart Leslie Goddard.

As for the two DVD’s that make up this double bumper comedy compilation, the first is called Stand-Up UKay. Now, the title alone requires some in-depth investigation:

Firstly, Peter Kay is a stand-up comedian. That’s the ‘stand-up’ part dealt with. That’s the easy bit. Understanding ‘UKay’ is a little more complex: The ‘Kay’ part of ‘UKay’ refers to the comedian’s last name, Kay. But before that is a ‘U’. This can only be in reference to Edgar Rice Burrough’s fictional creation, Tarzan The Apeman, who was known for his primitive speech patterns, his most famous being “Me Tarzan, You Jane”.  But why then hasn’t the comedian referred to himself, and thus the DVD, as “Stand-Up MEKay”? It’s a puzzle. The only clear conclusion we can reach is that Peter Kay was raised as a feral child  by The Mangani.

So to the second DVD, Special Kay. Here we are promised ‘Golden bite-sized chunks of comedy’. And the photo shows Peter Kay eating these bite-sized chunks of comedy. This is unusual.

Having said that, just look at the size of him on Stand-Up UKay! He’s got one foot in the North West and another foot in Dorset! He needs to stop eating TV’s!

A few weeks back my mum went to hospital for one of her regular check-ups. While she was in the waiting room Peter Kay walked in. My mum couldn’t help but smile at him, and he smiled back. And then he went off for his appointment. My mum phoned me as soon as she could. She was excited. She wanted to tell me who she had seen and who had smiled at her. At the end of the call she said,“he was dressed just ordinary, like any man, nothing fancy, just in a shirt. Like a shirt from Primark.”

I should stress that what my mum was saying was a good thing. She was letting me know that, despite him eating miniature TV’s of his own shows for breakfast, here was a man that was not highfalutin or full of airs and graces.

The one thing that she didn’t say was that he was fifty miles high!

And I do wish she’d said to him, “You Kay, Me Pat.”

Oh! I’ve somehow drifted away from a DVD review. So… a 15 certificate on the left and a 15 certificate on the right. Suitable for 30 year olds.

And you can get it at Amazon for just £7.50. A Christmas present bargain.

Tomorrow, number 8.

It’s that time of year again, when all the comedians bring out their comedy DVD’s and everyone gets a funny present for Christmas. For the past few years each Christmas I’ve taken a look at the DVD’s on offer and judged them not by their content, or by the comedian, but solely on the DVD’s cover. Yes, I am judging a DVD by its cover. And (crucial to my process) I refuse to do any other research other than what I already know and what is there before me, right in front of my eyes.

And how to choose the Top Ten? Well, I went over to Amazon, looked up stand up comedy DVD’s, and picked the first ten that popped up (as of 12.44 pm today). Amazon’s list might change over the coming days, but I’m sticking with the 12.44 list.

And first up, in at number 10, is…

Wow! A hell of an event. Just read this: This Comedy Spectacle of 2013 includes 22 of the biggest names in TV and Comedy along with an alternative dance performance from the amazing Diversity and their new recruits, all guaranteeing your biggest laughs of the year.

Now let’s look at the cover:

All of the acts have provided a photo booth pic. Most of them are smiling, but some of them look a little grumpy. And, just so the girls don’t feel neglected, three of the 22 acts are female. There’s truly something for everyone here; with a teeny bias towards happy and sad white males.

The title of the show is on a spring, popping out of a dark hole. I don’t know what this means.

In the bottom right hand corner there is a doodle of a child smiling and crying.

In the bottom left hand corner there’s the two 15 certificate symbols, making this DVD perfect for any thirty year olds.

It’s “the funniest event of 2013”. Well now, most events this year haven’t been funny at all. We’ve seen natural disasters, terrorist attacks, attacks on our liberty, and the death of Nelson Mandela. The only other event of 2013 that comes close to being as funny is the scientists in America who grew a living ear using a 3D printer. And that’s a wry smile, rather than a belly laugh, event.

Oh… the comedian above the 4 of “channel 4” is holding a skull. This is either a reference to death, and possibly Shakespeare’s Hamlet, or he is in a double act.

The woman to the right of him is also in a double act, possibly with Len Goodman from The Dancing Show.

The live show was in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital and this DVD is also sold in aid of the charity. So please do buy it as Christmas gift. I am sure, out of the 22 acts available, some of them, if not all, will make you laugh (or cry). Like the child.

Tomorrow, I will take a look at number 9.

Oh, and after ten days time I will set up a poll where we can all vote on the best and the worst cover. Maybe.

Go Sober- Day Ten

October 10, 2013

Double figures! It’s a kind of an achievement. A third (almost) of the way there. The proper achievement is you lot giving, so far, £198 to Macmillan Cancer Support.

That’s what it’s for. That’s why we are Going Sober. For October.

Now! Here’s the rub. Here’s the tricky part:

This Saturday it is my brother-in-law’s 40th Birthday party. He’s not going to have many 40th Birthdays. As things stand, he’s just planning on having the one. And, I’m not going to drink. I can’t; it’s Go Sober.

But, the daft thing is, Go Sober have come up with this ruse whereby you can do the damned challenge but also sneak in the odd day of drinking here and there. It’s called a Golden Ticket.

Yes! I know what you’re thinking! You’re thinking (maybe. I don’t know really. I’m not psychic):

“So, you’re asking me to sponsor you to give up drinking, and now you’re asking me to sponsor you to drink? Isn’t that a bit like asking me to sponsor you to run a Marathon and then asking me to sponsor you to have a break in the middle? Like, say running for 12 miles, then jumping into a taxi, getting the taxi for ten miles, then jumping out and running the last four miles? And I have to pay for the taxi? Which is cheating anyway? Just to be clear, are you asking me to sponsor you to cheat? ‘Cos that’s what it sounds like. And to be honest mate, isn’t that a bit much? A bit rich? A bit of a fucking-“

Yes! Alright! That’s enough! There’s no need to swear!

“But I’m not even saying this! You’re writing it for me! And you’ve already admitted you don’t really know what I’m thinking! To be frank, it’s a-“

Yes! I get it! Just give me a minute. Hear me out. Let me say this.

“It better be good!”

It is.

“So you say.”

Look. I don’t want a Golden Ticket-

“Oh! That’s taken me aback!”

It’s not for me. I’d like someone to buy one for my wife.

“Zoe’s lovely.”

Yes, she is. And it’s her brother’s 40th, and I think she should be able to have a drink or two-

“How sweet of you-“

So I can take the moral high ground.

“You’re horrible.”

Hey, who knew. So? Will you buy her a Golden Ticket?

“Maybe. How much?”

A minimum donation of £15.

“WHAT!!!!!????????”

For Macmillan?

“You are such a manipulative-“

Watch it!

“If I do buy the lovely Zoe a Golden Ticket, where and how do I do it?”

Ah! You’re thinking about it-

“I’m not even me! I’m you pretending to be me!”

You’re confusing me now. So I have to buy her one?

“Only if no one else does.”

Let’s play it by ear. Bye.

“You’re done with me now are you?”

Yes. Bye.

“Bye.”

(Long pause)

“Good luck!”

Thank you.

(Very long pause)

“Swing your pants!”

Ok… I think he/she has gone.

If you can help Zoe out here you’ll also be helping me out and Macmillan. You can buy her a Golden Ticket here.

Let’s end on a song.

Goody Goody Yum Yum

February 13, 2011

It’s the BAFTA’s tonight. Are you going? I’m not. Instead, I’m sitting here thinking about goody bags. They go crazy for them at the BAFTA’s don’t they? They love them, the Jeffs, Colins, Natalies and Coens. Christopher Nolan only made Inception so he could get a gold cover for his phone. And some booze.

They love booze, those film folk. But if there’s one thing they hate, it’s paying for it. It’s a known fact that BAFTA luvvie  Russell Crowe once pinned the TV director Malcolm Gerrie to a wall just because Gerrie had the nerve to tell Crowe his Tia Maria was £4.50. Or something like that. I don’t know. Don’t quote me. Don’t hold me to it. Don’t pin the messenger to the wall.

Here’s what gets them all so whoop-di-dooed.

Let’s see. There’s a phone, some booze, some shampoo. You get the idea.

It’s a goody bag. But it’s not the goodiest bag.

Last night I was at a Valentine’s Ball. It was the Caravan Valentine’s Ball. Held at the Marriott Hotel in High Gosforth Park, Newcastle (winner, in 2008, of the North East England Large Hotel of the Year Award!)

Ok, I’ll slow down. I’ve become aware that I’m maybe piling on the information. Taking too much for granted. You think I’m some kind of Caravaner. I do wish I was, but I’m not. This Caravan is the name for the National Grocers’ Benevolent Fund; the charity for the grocery industry. It’s a fundraiser and everyone there does there best to raise money for grocers who’ve fallen on hard times.

You can laugh. But I’d rather you didn’t. I’ve fallen on hard times myself now and then (mainly now), and Caravan has come to my rescue too. And yes, I know I’m no grocer (if it helps, my grandpa and grandma were). Caravan help me in other ways. Caravan give each guest a goody bag that, frankly, makes the BAFTA goody bag look like a la-di-da ponce-fest. Yes Portman, you deserve all the best for your skinny-ballet horror lesbo romp. You deserve a gold phone. But be honest, wouldn’t you rather get your bony fingers on this?

Look closer. Let’s spill the bag and see what’s inside.

There were also crumpets and tea cakes. Actors, that’s a Goody Bag!

The Comedians

December 18, 2010

All the comedians have got their DVD’s out for Christmas. Loads of ’em. Comedians and DVD’s. How do you choose? It’s tricky isn’t it. Everyone likes a laugh at Christmas, but what if you buy the wrong one? What if you buy a DVD by one of the unfunny comedians? Or a rude comedian? Or an offensive one?

Of course, there are some simple rules that are always worth following. One is never buy a DVD by a comedian who has a supposedly comical and  endearing middle nickname.

Then, well, that’s it. There’s only one rule really. Oh yes! Rule two; be wary of yokels.

That’s it. Beyond that you’re on your own out there, scooting down the aisle only to find yourself faced with a fake top fifty supermarket countdown of smiling faces and stickers.

I’ll try to help. I’m going to review a handful of DVD’s available and it might, just might, help you reach that difficult decision of which to buy.

I should point out that I have seen none of these DVD’s, and, in many cases, seen little or none of the comedians work (Oh! With the exception of one). In some instances I may have even gone out of my way to avoid their work. (Oops, it’s just occurred to me that this idea is a little like The No Show– a great site where shows are reviewed without ever being seen. I don’t mean it to be, and if this post causes offence please let me know and I will destroy it!)

Oh, and I will base my review on one thing alone. The artwork on the cover of the DVD. That’s all. How it looks. I will judge a comedian by his cover.

Here we go.

Remember, I don’t necessarily know what I’m on about here.

I’m just going off the pictures, ok?

Right, first up:

Michael McIntyre

It’s Michael McIntyre. A complicated one. Is he live and we’re laughing? Or is it just him doing both? He seems to be laughing; possibly in rather a cruel way having turned his back on the paying punters seen in the background. Shouldn’t he be facing them? Just what’s going on, Mr. Pink shirt?

There’s an ambiguous quote from The Daily Telegraph (a paper I know little of, though I have been assured they are good for sports… at least that’s the excuse of most right-wing fanatics). They say “If there’s a funnier, slicker, warmer hour of comedy, I haven’t encountered it”.

But how much do The Daily Telegraph get out these days? And considering this DVD is 84 minutes long, what did they think of the remaining 24 minutes?

It’s a tricky one to start with. You decide.

Lee Mack

He’s live too. There’s no audience being neglected here. Instead, he’s walking straight at you. And he’s not laughing. Or smiling. It’s almost like he knows that sometimes not smiling is funnier than smiling. There’s a quote that makes Lee sound funny, but potentially painfully so. And it’s a quote from a man rather than a paper. Optional swearing (swearing is, generally, funny), a funny walk, a too-tight suit, an almost serious expression; I’d say this one is a winner with guaranteed laughs. It’s also a nice shade of green.

Jason Manford

This is very odd. Is he trying to speak through his ear? Is he mistaking the microphone for a Q-Tip? Did the photographer just say “Hey, Jase, stick it in your ear! Ha ha ha!” and he just did, just for the hell of it?

He is “a true master of observational comedy…” the BBC said. But then, at the time of printing, they were most likely his employers. And what follows the little dots? What if the next word was “sometimes”? Or “only on Tuesdays?” An enigma at the least. You decide.

Kevin Bridges

He’s “the master of stand-up at just 22” The Daily Mirror tells us. And the use of a Mirror quote suggests he’s one of us, an ok bloke who may possibly be just mildly left wing. And he’s humble too. Look! A smile that says  “that’s me that! That’s my name up there! In Lights! Little old me, photographed from above to make me look little.” But look in the background; his audience, yet again ignored. You decide.

Frankie Boyle

No newspaper quotes for this comedian. He’s not smiling, but we can assume he is live as we are told it is a new stand-up show for 2010. He tells us that if he could he would reach out through the TV and strangle you. Well, TV is developing all the time. 3D. HD. What next? Just remember, if he could, he would. Well, one day soon he may well be able. It’s a risk. It’s up to you. You decide.

Stewart Lee

He’s put his face on a cup. If that doesn’t make you laugh you most likely wouldn’t laugh at Steve Martin’s Pizza in a Cup in The Jerk.

Look! Stewart Lee’s face on a cup! And he is almost smiling. None of the other comedians have put their face on a cup.

So this is the ideal Christmas comedy DVD.

Buy this one. You decide.

Tour de Farce

June 22, 2010

The Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, Denmark, is home to the Bicycle Museum. It’s not a lot of bicycles, but rather a pedal-driven, human-powered exhibit that takes up to 10 minutes to cycle. We didn’t know if we were allowed to cycle it ourselves or if we had to wait for a museum guard. There was no one around; no guard, and, at the time, no other visitors. we clambered aboard and made a film. It’s nine minutes long. If you watch it all I don’t know whether I should be impressed or appalled. And my apologies to Zoe for… well, just for… this:

And thank you to Zoe for giving me a Flip camera as a gift. Without it none of this would have been possible. More films to follow. I’ll try and keep them shorter.