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Nothing says “Christmas is coming!” quite like the appearance of stand up comedy releases hitting our shelves, does it? So below is a batch of three from Universal that get released pretty soon.

Universal ComedyChannel Four's Comedy Gala 2011.
Release: TBC
Runtime: 165 mins


The annual Comedy Gala in aid of The Great Ormand Street Hospital brings together many of the leading names on the British comedy circuit in an extravaganza for a good cause. Hosted by Dermot O’Leary (though only barely) we get big names like Lee Evans, Jack Dee, Alan Carr and Jo Brand taking to the stage and even a nice chunk of video messages from the handful that couldn’t be there like Rob Brydon, James Cordon and Russell Brand. This year's show from the O2 in London didn’t really float my comedy boat and when most of the “Sorry I Couldn’t be There” video segments are funnier than most of the show it’s not a good sign. That said Lee Evans elevates the show in his own unique way, Mickey Flanagan is a fine addition to the line up and a handful of the smaller acts provide a good segment on the large stage. Generally speaking though I’m not a big fan of a lot of current comedy talent that shows up on the TV and if Michael Mcintyre is the best thing since sliced bread British comedy wise my finger is so far away from the pulse of British comedy .

Video/Audio


Unsurprisingly this looks exactly like a TV broadcast of a comedy show filmed in a large arena. The stage lighting is neon and bright, the visuals are usually only the performer walking back and forth in front of the word ‘Gala’ which is bright and colourful against a deep black backdrop and of course we get the wider shots of the large audience which again is bathed in arena lighting and looks pretty routine for a comedy DVD. The audio presentation is just what you’d expect. Clear crisp presentation of the jokes and the odd rumble of the crowd cheering in a stereo track. There’s a slightly bigger echo to the O2 setting with some elements more noticeable than others but this is a straight forward recording of the show.

Extras


Despite all the talent at the show and the charity behind it, the only extra here is ‘Commercial Break’ (04:12) with is a selection of UK TV ads in which Jimmy Carr and Alan Carr rock up to add a comedy spin.

Universal Comedy

Dylan Moran – Yeah, Yeah - Live in London
Release: 14th November 2011
Runtime: 73 mins



Dylan Moran takes it on tour with his laid back yet fact paced approach and a distinct feeling that he’s a little bit tipsy. Tackling subjects that affect us Brits and throwing in sly jokes within his discussions, Moran comes across as a little bit Eddie Izzard in places. I’d not really seen much of his stand up before but it seems to be the sort of stuff I find amusing but rarely laugh out loud at. There’s the odd bit here and there but the whole thing felt a bit samey after a while. It’s a slick performance and a well structured act but I can’t say I walked away wanting to see any of his other projects all that much.

Video/Audio


Again, this one is exactly what you’d expect a comedy DVD to look like but even more so with the more suitably sized venue. A simple rippled curtain lit with blue lights is the only the backdrop here and other than Moran’s skin the rest of the frame is one variation of blue or another. There’s a screen with drawings on it that we rarely get a good look at within the performance but this one is a fairly routine presentation with some grain and softness to the image. I’m beginning to feel like I sound like a broken record here but this audio track is as simple as peas. Moran’s talking, the crowd's responding and that’s about your lot. It’s all clear and strong and as is the case with comedy DVDs, nothing to get excited about.

Extras


The only things here are the drawing from the screen above the stage and an MP3 track of the performance to download via your PC – a nice touch for stand up releases I think.

Universal ComedyTim Minchin: Live at the Albert Hall
Released: 14th November 2011
Runtine: 146 Mins



Tim Minchin takes it up a notch with this massive comedy gig with a full orchestra and some damn funny and witty musical comedy. Despite the size of the room, Minchin somehow manages to keep it quite personal and his odd little glances and cheeky little grins are all captured well in this near three hour spectacle. This really feels like pure entertainment with his stand up section working wonders and his musical numbers working even better. This really is a comedy DVD release that's worth a look and has a real charm about it.

Video / Audio


Not only are there more chuckles here than the other two titles but there's a step up in quality too, This near perfect image is packets full of colour, whether it be the golden lighting on the orchestra or the spotlight on Minchin showing his stubble, wrinkles and eye make up perfectly. The close ups on his face really show his dedication to the performance and really it's a wonderfully clean and bright image to capture the show. As for the audio we're treated to either a Dolby Digital 5.1 track or a 2.0 stereo track (as well as subtitles to catch some of the lyrics). The orchestra is full of bass and power and despite the initial concern that the audio was slightly disconnected from the visuals (all part of a clever opening song illusion thankfully) the musical numbers feel alive and clear. In fact you can hear how hard Minchin is thumping those piano keys in some instances and it's fantastic. There's a little bit of intentional mumbling in the stand up segments which is much lower than the musical pieces but nothing that detracts from this very good overall presentation.

Extras


'Storm' (10:38) is a short animated film with Tim Minchin narrating.
'Tim Meets the Orchestra' (04:54) is exactly what the title implies and it's odd seeing how different Minchin looks with glasses and no eye make up. 'Nothing Ruins Comedy Like Arenas' (04:07) looks at the worries with the scale of the show and discusses the progression Minchin has been on to reach such a large performance. It's also interesting to hear he's never played with an orchestra before.

So there you have it a look at a small selection of the comedy titles winging their way to supermarket shelves and TV ads all over the festive period. Out of the three I'd totally recommend the Tim Minchin release above the others for content, presentation and extras but all of these releases had their fair share of chuckles.

Comedy Gala
Comedy Gala
Comedy Gala
Dylan Moran
Dylan Moran
Dylan Moran
Tim Minchin
Tim Minchin
Tim Minchin


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