As I recently got to see the fantastic Irish comic Dara Ó Briain live for the first time in October, it’s only natural that I should go through his DVDs that I have in my collection, just like I’ve done for a few other comedians this year. It’s been a lot of fun to rewatch them yet again.
Dara’s shows are always happy and jolly, with great energy and a convivial atmosphere. Even if he’s having a rant about something or having a dig at someone in the audience, it’s always with a light-hearted air. Indeed, chatting to people in the front row and elsewhere in the room is a regular part of his act that he very much enjoys doing. He has an excellent rapport with people, and is very good at instantly spinning anything they say into a fun flight of fancy and building on it, and he sometimes talks about particularly memorable people from other gigs too. Then, at the end of each show, he always makes a point of crediting each of the people he’s spoken to in a suitably amusing manner, and inviting applause for them, in order to acknowledge the contributions they made.
He also likes to post cryptic “You had to be there” references on Twitter after each show, which only those who attended will understand, while the rest of us can only guess what must have been going on. So he makes every show feel like a unique, engaging, intimate experience for each audience, even in huge venues.
All of his DVDs come with subtitles and extra features, and there are a couple of extras in particular that appear multiple times:
There are live shows from Vicar Street in Dublin on 3 of his DVDs, which are edited down to remove any material that’s already in the main feature. They’re included because Dara always does some exclusive material for his Irish audiences, which include occasional words and references that non-Irish people won’t understand, but you still get the general gist of what’s going on. And there’s a lot of great chat between Dara and several of the audience members. So those bonus shows are well worth watching as well.
Every DVD has an In-Vision Commentary & Drinking Game, where Dara invites one or two comedian friends to watch the show with him, and they take drinks every time Dara says or does certain things. They’re not as engaging or exciting as the main feature, and on the last couple of DVDs the drinking game element has pretty much been dropped so it’s really just a chat. But they’re all interesting features to check out, as they’re not very long, it’s fun to see the banter between Dara and his mates, and he gives some nice insights into some of his routines.
So in this post I’m going to briefly review each of his DVDs, all of which are a lot of fun, along with a mention of a show I once saw online. Plus as a bonus I’ve tacked on reviews of my Mock The Week DVDs as well, in tribute to that show coming to an end. None of this stuff is sponsored or gifted, and I hope you enjoy reading about it!
Last weekend I had a nice little getaway in the beautiful historic city of Oxford, which I’ve never visited before. I spent the daylight hours visiting a museum and going on a walking tour, while in the evenings I attended a concert and a stand-up comedy gig, so I made good use of my time there. None of it is sponsored or gifted, and I hope you enjoy this review of what I got up to!
Still, despite all that chaos, I’m doing well, I’m happy to say. My redundancy certainly hasn’t left me twiddling my thumbs, as I’ve been very busy indeed this month. The fact that I’ve been invited to contribute to various disability and accessibility projects, some of which I’ve been paid for, has shown that I’m still very much in demand for my skills and opinions, and I’ve continued to socialise with friends as well of course. So I still have a sense of purpose and don’t feel at all lonely, bored or cast aside in any way despite my job loss, and I still have financial stability for the time being.
So I’m enjoying the career break, and there’s plenty to cover this month, including the aforementioned disability projects, virtual reality games, stand-up comedy shows, a museum visit, a seaside trip, an overseas holiday, TV shows and music releases. So I hope you enjoy this bumper roundup post and video!
Following on from my previous post about Derren Brown’s various TV series, this time I’m revisiting his TV specials, including his televised stage shows. I own 4 specials and 5 stage shows on DVD, but the rest haven’t been released on disc. Most of these shows are on All4 as well though, and some are on Derren’s Youtube channel (in full along with many shorter clips), as he generously posted a lot of shows online during the Covid pandemic. So I’ve been able to rewatch all of them recently in one way or another.
Derren’s specials are all one-off shows (or occasionally two-parters) focused on a very specific subject, event or person. Nearly all of them were an hour long when originally broadcast (so around 45-50 minutes without adverts), with a few exceptions that lasted 90 minutes (so around 70 minutes without commercials). They’re always thought-provoking, and a few of the darker ones resulted in complaints (and thus extra publicity) from people who didn’t understand what he was doing or trying to achieve. But I find them all fascinating and fun to watch in any case. Likewise his stage shows are all amazing to watch, and I’ve grouped them together in one section at the end as I don’t need to go into heavy detail about them.
As mentioned before, none of this is sponsored, I’m just writing about them as a fan. And there are a few spoilers in here if you haven’t seen the shows before, but then it’s pretty common knowledge that Derren’s experiments pretty much always succeed as intended. The trhill is from seeing how he does it and the impact it has on those involved. So I hope you enjoy my descriptions and reviews.
Having finally seen Derren Brown live for the first time recently, it’s been a good excuse to rewatch a lot of his old TV & stage shows. I own many of them on DVD, but there are also several programmes available on All4, plus he has his own Youtube channel where he generously uploaded some full episodes during the Covid pandemic and has lots of other clips too. Some of his stuff I haven’t seen for a long time, so it’s been a lot of fun to revisit it.
So here’s the first part of a special double bill of descriptions and reviews for Halloween weekend, and here I’m going to describe and review the various TV series that I’ve been rewatching on DVD and online. Naturally there are some spoilers in here, but after all this time I don’t think that matters – even when you know the outcome of some of his shows, given that he nearly always succeeds in his aims, it’s still amazing to see him at work. And none of it’s sponsored, I just wanted to write about it as a fan. So I hope you enjoy!
My local support organisation Enabled Living, in the London borough of Newham, are currently running an awareness campaign on Twitter, encouraging people and organisations to add descriptions to their images online. I was invited to give some feedback on the design of the campaign and film some videos to support it, for which I was compensated for my time and effort.
So I want to share the videos here, as I explain why social media is so important to me, and why image descriptions are vital. It’s always worth reminding people about, as just a short and simple description for an image will often make a big difference, and can determine whether or not we follow and interact with you.
Apart from that though, and despite my redundancy, I’ve still been pretty busy this month. I’ve attended a Derren Brown show and a couple of tribute concerts, listened to an audiobook I got for my birthday, and enjoyed new episodes of my favourite comedies on TV once the schedules had returned to normal. So there are still plenty of nicer things to mention in this post and the short video I’ve made to go with it, none of which is sponsored or gifted, and I hope you enjoy my latest roundup!
It’s the end of an era, no doubt about that. As if leaving my first job and Liz Truss becoming Prime Minister haven’t been big enough changes to kick off the month, the ultimate career change has just taken place over the past couple of weeks. It’s been beautiful, celebratory and moving, and has brought an enormous number of people together in grief, reflection and gratitude. So I felt it only right to pay my respects in this blog as well.
As The Last Leg has just been celebrating its 10th anniversary, and I’ve recently written about their 2012 Christmas special and co-host Josh Widdicombe’s stand-up comedy shows, I’ve naturally rewatched some of the great stand-up shows by Australian presenter Adam Hills as well. From the many shows he’s done over the years, there are a few DVD releases that I own, along with a TV programme I recorded and an earlier gig I’ve watched on Youtube. There are lots of other clips of him online as well of course, a few of which I’ve added here where relevant, but my reviews are of the complete shows I’ve watched.
As on The Last Leg, Adam’s friendly and caring persona comes across well in these shows, as he uses his interesting anecdotes and very funny jokes to impart a positive and supportive message about living your life to the full, without being preachy or patronising. Plus he can get away with being a bit ruder than on TV. There are some jokes or stories that are repeated across different shows, including his experience of going through security at airports in America & Beijing with his artificial leg, which comes up in nearly all of them it seems, but the vast majority of the material is new each time. And he really enjoys interacting with the audience, so he sometimes gets completely derailed when he chats and messes around with people before he gets into his scripted routine. It keeps things interesting for him, as well as making it a unique show for the audience each time.
The other great thing about Adam’s shows is that he always has a sign language interpreter on stage with him, either Leanne Beer when he’s in Australia, or Catherine King when performing in the UK. And the 3 DVDs I own all have an option for the interpreter to be displayed on screen for the entire show. It’s fantastic that people with hearing difficulties get to feel fully included in this way, and it also adds extra value for other audience members, who get to enjoy some of the jokes twice when they learn the signs for the naughtier aspects. Indeed, Adam often has a laugh by getting the interpreter to sign rude things or represent different accents. Leanne and Catherine are both very good sports, and Adam kindly refers to his interpreter as the star of the show at the end. The DVDs all have options for subtitles as well.
So with all that said, let’s run through each of the shows…
Hello again. I hope you’re doing well, in what I know are worrying and stressful times for many, given all the economic, financial, environmental and political turmoil at the moment.
It’s certainly not the ideal time for me to be made redundant, that’s for sure – not that there is a ever a good time of course. Fortunately my mother and I are doing fine though, despite that. We’re lucky to be in a comfortable financial position where we can ride this out for a while, and I can have a nice break to reset while I consider what to do next. I’ve got plenty to keep me busy as well. But hopefully it won’t be too long before I find a new career. Given all the financial and economic uncertainty, however, we have decided not to move house for the time being – but then that was never essential anyway, it was just something we were considering. It will happen eventually, at a later date, and in the meantime we’ve got some small improvements we can make to our current place.
Beyond that, because work was my main focus, I haven’t done a huge amount this month, and there were even a couple of weekends where I couldn’t go out at all. But there are still a few happier things to mention, as I celebrated my birthday, received an award and briefly visited a couple of museums. Plus I really enjoyed watching the Commonwealth Games on TV, so I’ve written quite a bit about those in this post, and I revisited the 2012 Olympics & Paralympics on Blu-ray, which I’ve already written about elsewhere. So, while August wasn’t very eventful overall, I hope you still find some items of interest in this latest roundup!