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Stand-up comedy tends to be, by its very nature, limited to a comedian standing on stage and telling various jokes and anecdotes to gain a response from the audience. Sometimes you get some audience interaction, sometimes you get some more physical comedy demonstrations but there are still inherent restrictions. Johnny Vegas has formulated his own version of stand-up comedy and made the transition to a TV show format that gives much more variety than you would get from a stage performance. But is he everybody's (or anybody's) cup of tea?

Johnny Vegas: 18 Stone of Idiot - Unseen and Uncut

Series


18 Stone of Idiot was a TV show that ran over six episodes and has been compiled here into eighty minutes' worth of best bits (including never before seen uncut scenes). The episodes are generally split into sections, with Johnny doing a bit of stand-up introduction, hassling the audience and pulling people up on stage, then introducing his guest stars (who range from David Soul to Ray Winstone, Elvis Costello to Kathy Burke). After a chat where the guests are allowed to offer up some anecdotes about their acting history, experiences of sexually transmitted diseases, violent tendencies and so forth, one of the audience members is picked at random to ask the guest a question (normally something involving sex).

We then leave the guests and get Johnny doing various strange things from spinning on a carpet cleaner to drinking Guiness from somebody's shoe to re-enacting the orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally, either of his own volition or by request from a member of the audience. There is footage from Johnny venturing out into London and causing some trouble, propositioning random strangers in a park, challenging them to races on a bridge or swearing at passing truck drivers. He tries his luck at speed dating and waits on a street-corner asking people for drugs. There is footage from his stint on Celebrity Poker, clips of various D-list stars getting humiliated (Neil Hamilton begging for fish, Kris Akabusi being electrocuted and Jodie Marsh suspended from the ceiling in a straight jacket), shots from his controversial time on the Shopping Channel and some fun time splashing around at Butlins.

The compilation plays like an extended episode itself, with each chapter of the episodes (intro, audience, guest, London footage etc.) separated out into sub-sections of different clips from across the season. Not only is there plenty of editing to keep the gags coming fast, but we also get jumping back and forth from scene to scene, making the compilation extremely bitty but nonetheless more fast-moving. Highlights include Johnny getting a full-on punch to the face, picking flies up with his retractable spit and riding a hapless audience member like a horse. The best guest was probably the super-cool Huey from the Fun Loving Criminals, who talks about shooting people in a way that actually sounds like he might have done it. The last few minutes of Johnny's mock- Oprah show are quite funny as well, with various maladjusted members of the community coming forward, like the girlfriend who is annoyed with her fella for dressing up like female characters out of Disney animations or the two Chavs arguing over which one is fatter.

Johnny Vegas: 18 Stone of Idiot - Unseen and Uncut
Enjoying 18 Stone of Idiot largely comes down to whether or not you like the man himself, Johnny Vegas. He is loud, brash and insulting, will happily invade your private space, rub your face in his belly and shout in your ear. He is rude and dirty, spitting and snorting his nose at any opportunity, and constantly drinking and smoking. That said, you are unlikely to come across many shows like this on TV—no host is going to get beaten up quite as much as Johnny (suffice to say it never got picked up for a further season)—and some viewers are likely to be refreshed by the reasonably blunt honesty that this man prides himself on.

He is, after all, merely an exaggerated representation of your average, everyday guy. Never looking down at you, happy to get loud after a few pints and well up for a laugh at any possible opportunity. In fact, although he is not a regular stand-up comic, his sense of humour is quite sharp and he is able to mix in some reasonably funny retorts amidst his naturally loud behaviour. When it boils down to it, though, it is still all about whether or not you like this guy—as I've already stated. If you can't stand him, as I am sure a considerable amount of people out there cannot, then stay well clear because this is Vegas at his loudest and most unrestricted. But if you like Vegas, or will happily watch something with him in it, then it is maybe worth giving this a rental to see if you enjoy this particular vehicle for his specific talents.

Johnny Vegas: 18 Stone of Idiot - Unseen and Uncut

Video


18 Stone of Idiot is presented in a fairly glossy 1.85:1 aspect ratio anamorphically enhanced widescreen picture. Although it cannot hide its TV show appearance, the detail is perfectly good, with reasonable clarity, little softness and negligible grain (some of the outdoor scenes exhibit more than the studio sequences). The colour palette is remarkably bright and vivid (in line with the show, I guess) and all of the colours are well represented, with reasonably good blacks on show despite the lack of any need for significant shadowing. Overall, given its TV origins and the fact that it is not trying to be particularly grandiose in its look, this smart widescreen presentation is actually probably going to surprise fans of the show by its quality.

Audio


We get a fairly basic Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track to accompany the show, although this is normally what to expect from a TV production (despite the fact that many US shows have pushed the boat out for 5.1). The vocals are generally clear—in fact sometimes Johnny's shouting can get a little louder than is comfortable in your living room—and there are a few sound effects here and there, but these are generally of the cheap and tacky variety. There is little music, but then again this show basically boils down to being a stand-up comedy so you would not generally expect effects or music. The audience cheers come loud and strong as well, despite the fact that they are packed into the frontal array along with everything else.

Extras


First up there is a full-length audio commentary with Johnny Vegas himself, the producer and the guy who dresses as an angry bee (who is also one of the writers). They are thankfully not quite as intoxicated as Johnny sometimes is during the main show, and they take you through the proceedings, adding in comments on what was cut, what went wrong and the responses of some of the particular audiences they had for the shows. Although never particularly informative, it is quite a chirpy, animated commentary from these three and fans of Johnny or the show are sure to want to give it a listen.

Johnny Vegas: 18 Stone of Idiot - Unseen and Uncut
We also get a full, uncut Celebrity Poker featurette, which runs at thirty-two minutes in length and presents the before, during and after footage of that particular fateful night. We see him chatting up the barmaid, ranting on at the players for an embarrassingly long period of time following the tournament, having his makeup done and making the lovely post-game interviewer simply crack up. There is an Angry Baboon feature that lasts a little over five minutes and is basically footage of him in the bathroom talking to an animated stuffed baboon who winds Johnny up.

Celebrity Pub Lock-in lasts thirty-six minutes and is a Reality TV-style enterprise where Vegas and a bunch of D-list celebrities sit around in a pub and get trashed together, seeing who can tolerate Johnny the longest. The other names include Timmy Mallett, Roland from Grange Hill and Terry Nutkins. This is not a particularly good feature and few will bother watching all of it even if they love the main man himself.

We get eighteen minutes of outtakes, which normally involve line fluffs or Vegas cracking up at his own or other people's lines. There is plenty more of Johnny and the Angry Baboon, Johnny propositioning in the park and spitting milk at the cameraman. If you liked the main episodes then you are likely to want to give this the once-over but there are no particularly funny or outstanding moments, even with the scenes involving the celebrities.

Johnny Vegas: 18 Stone of Idiot - Unseen and Uncut

Overall


18 Stone of Idiot is a rather strange mish-mash of comedy-violence, real violence, stunts, dirty laughs and shouting. Enjoying it really comes down to whether or not you have acquired a taste for Johnny Vegas' particular brand of humour. Presentation-wise, this DVD gives value for money, with above average video, adequate audio and a wealth of extras that fans of his will cherish having in their collection. If you have found him funny in the past then you should definitely give this a look but those who don't like Vegas are unlikely to be converted by this particular release.


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