Sunday, July 19, 2009

DVD: Mark Steel - Viva La Revolution

Brian Productions

Directed by Cal Barton
Written by Mark Steel
Starring Mark Steel

Recorded at the Black Heath Halls on his 'Viva La Revolution' tour, comedian Mark Steel's first live DVD, based on his book of the same name, focuses predominantly on the French Revolution, a period of time Mark believes is one of the most significant in World history.

So his aim was to guide the audience through the main events of the revolution, picking up on the humour of the things the main participants said and did at the time while being historically accurate at the same time. In reality he relates all of the main events to England. Not in the historic sense, just parallels that can be drawn with the way people behaved then, and society now, mostly by making jokes about working class English people (his mock accents are very good) trying the same thing.

So in actual fact most of the jokes ended up being about things like British public transport, posh people, racism and teenagers, and mostly not about the French Revolution at all. Mark has two of the things which make the funniest comedians as appealing as they are. A working class background and intelligence. This means that during these tangents his social observations are astute and very funny. And like some of his peers he carries a certain amount of well-directed anger towards certain subjects and factions of society which makes his mini-rages all the more funny.

His approach was probably the best he could have taken. Let's be honest, if he'd spent two hours purely talking about the French Revolution, most audiences would likely have lost interest pretty quickly. By spinning off into short spells of UK-derision he keeps people interested and amused long enough to fit everything to his historical reminiscence.

On the extras front there is another 13 minutes of outakes from the show (generally where his tangents got too far away from the subject at hand), a half-hour chat with Jeremy Hardy on a park bench (fairly amusing, but really just two comics sharing annecdotes) and extracts from the Mark Steel Lectures series, in which there's very little humour, more a historical documentary.

Whether or not this show is quite what it claims on the tin, or as sharp as his writing can be, it is still a very funny (and at two hours, good value) show and Mark's delivery is the right mix of low and high brow to appeal to everyone.

“ social observations are astute and very funny ”

Special Features: Two Men On A Bench (with Jeremy Hardy) / Viva La Revolution Outakes / Extracts From The Lectures

DVD Release Date: September 29, 2009
Studio: Brian Productions
Feature Running Time: 112 mins
Special Features Running Time: 58 mins
Certificate: 15
Language(s): English
Subtitles: None
Other Format(s): None