Best of 2012: Top 10 Comedy DVDs | Comedy reviews, news & interviews
Best of 2012: Top 10 Comedy DVDs
Our recommendations for the finest funnies to put in the Christmas stocking
There are oodles of comedy DVDs released for the Christmas market - here's a selection of the best.
Dara Ó Bríain
In more than a decade of watching him work, I've yet to see the hugely likeable Irish comic doing anything less than a very well put-together and gag-filled show, and this is no exception. Filmed at the Edinburgh Playhouse, it shows him at the top of his form and displays one of his great strengths - interacting with the audience and creating great comedy on the spot from it. He also talks about adult alternatives to Nativity plays, how the modern Irish diaspora is so different from the postwar one (it's all IT specialists now - "Feel my lovely soft hands"), being a TV scientist alongside Brian Cox, and he takes a witty swipe at pretend sciences - and divulges a great way (should you ever need it) to remember the difference between astrology and astronomy.
Adam Hills has ploughed his comedy furrow at the Edinburgh Fringe for many years and has gained a large and loyal following there both among audiences and critics, but has never quite broken into the UK mainstream. But his nightly live programme on Channel 4 during the Paralympics, The Last Leg, brought the smiley Australian to wider attention in his country, and deservedly so. This timely re-release of Inflatable shows him at his best, riffing for fully 20 minutes with the audience before he even begins his set. In it he talks about the Paralympics, his artificial limb, how some cultures are inherently nice and how some people just make the world a more decent place. He veers dangerously close to the sentimental, but his is genuinely feelgood comedy and none the worse for that.
No Lands Man
If ever a comic deserved wider success, then it's Canadian Glenn Wool, a superb stand-up whose delightful playfulness with language makes his surreal flights of fancy ones to relish. On this DVD he tells the story of how he upset some border guards on his travels and ended up with a rubber-gloved finger (not his, nor a lover's) up his anus - an occupational hazard, he admits, for a man who looks like “a member of a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band”. Along the way he also tells a very amusing story about how he came to miss an Iron Maiden (his heroes) concert, helping beavers out of a fix and the joys of language. He's a master of the callback, as the finale of this shows proves.
Outstanding in His Field
Recorded at London’s Hammersmith Apollo, the Canadian comic's DVD is gag-heavy. Known for his often acerbic one-liners and puns from shows such as Mock the Week, Francis is a great comic for a well crafted joke and a delayed payoff, but also for riffs on imaginary characters in his life. His material ranges from the perils of family life, critics he dislikes and the shortcomings of popular TV. He's a decent impressionist as well, both in person and with words; Ed Miliband is described as looking like “a security guard who's just a heard a noise in the warehouse”. The gag count is high, and the strike rate the same.
The Story Continues...
The young Glaswegian has another crowd-pleasing DVD, this one recorded on home turf at the SECC, in front of a Saturday-night crowd during his sellout 10-night run there. In it he talks about tax-avoiding comics, the disconnect between the reality of being jobless and the Government's view of the unemployed, the recession and his dad's unlikely pretensions as an interior designer. His observational comedy sometimes takes on a quietly political or surreal edge, but mostly it's rooted firmly in the everyman, everyday reality of working-class Glasgow. Bridges has an easygoing, affable style and gets a real buzz playing off his local fans; the bonhomie in the room – vast though it is – is almost palpable.
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Superb mix of personal and political material
Leicester kicks off the comedy festival season
Young Irish comic with a delightfully daft show
He's been Montgomery Burns and Derek Smalls. Stand back for his President Nixon
Riveting show that's a sort of state-of-the-nation address about Ireland
Edinburgh best newcomer award winner is an original talent
The rise of the managerial class is killing off mainstream BBC television comedy
Impassioned parody lecture about the poverty industry makes you laugh and think
Welcome return to stand-up after six years
Shameless Dame Edna, her Svengali manager and seedy intruders hit comic heights as ever
Faultless entertainment from a comic at the top of his game
Old-school variety act shamelessly plugs half-baked memoir