Russell Howard is one of the hottest tickets in the UK comedy scene right now. The West Country performer is rarely off our TV screens with his weekly appearances on the quite brilliant Mock The Week and his intriguing show Russell Howard’s Good News on BBC3. Indeed, Howard has created a place for himself near the pinnacle of UK comedians at just the right time. Comedy outlets have fared well in the global downturn as people seek humorous alternatives to the dreary reality of repossessions, political vitriol aimed at anyone from who points can be scored and unjust wars.
In Dingledodies (I have no idea what it means) Russell Howard releases his second DVD and a swift follow-up to critically acclaimed, and simpler named, Russell Howard Live. Fans of the comedian will love the new release which was filmed as part of the 2009 tour of the same name at the Brighton Dome. For those who have seen Howard on his many TV appearances a good number of the jokes will be familiar – moreso as he is using a lot of the output in the current series of Mock The Week.
However, that doesn’t take anything away from his excellent and irreverent approach to delivery. He is not a master of the crowd a la Billy Connolly in the 1980s, or Richard Pryor before that, but he is nonetheless funny. The jokes and anecdotes come thick and fast as Howard bounces back and forth between subject and time, with frequent trips to his youth and family a real feature, and his representation of his mum is always worth a chuckle; in fact, I am torn between wanting my mum to be that mad and concerned about the potential for embarrassment if she were so.
Howard is at times lambasted for being sometimes fraternity in his humour. Live shows, for any comedian, tend to lift the veneer of TV acceptability (except maybe Frankie Boyle who clearly doesn’t care who he offends) and allows the stand-up to unleash their true coarseness both in language and subject matter. For Howard, due to his clean-cut appearance the profanity can be a bit of a shock, it is not an overused vehicle and is generally in context. Sure, some of the comedy is close to the bone but nothing that would have me covering my ears.
His subjects are whimsy and eccentric, his energy is abundant and at times his jokes very observational and incisive. I love hearing seemingly true stories, the reconstructions of mundane interactions (his narrative of the conversation with a schoolgirl at the Darwin exhibition is classic) and Howard really excels at landing these stories with great aplomb.
Dingledodies is a touch crasser than Russell Howard Live and certainly gives another dimension to his character from the one familiar to licence payers. It is funny throughout with a few really laugh out loud moments.
DVD extras are of value with two Live At The Apollo shows and some entertaining interviews with fans.