Every Christmas brings out a slew of stand-up comedy releases, but if you’ve got to a gift to give and aren’t sure which comedians someone likes, Channel 4’s Comedy Gala 2012 might be the release to go for. Plus it helps raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital, and you can’t argue with that.
A huge selection of the top stand-ups in the UK descended on the O2 in London last May for an evening of comedy, and this is the result. The line-up includes Lee Evans, Michael McIntyre, Jonathan Ross, Micky Flanagan, Sean Lock, Kevin Bridges, Jo Brand, Jack Whitehall, Jack Dee, Jon Richardson, Seann Walsh, Lee Nelson, Josh Widdicombe, Paul Chowdhry, Andi Osho, Keith Lemon, Alan Carr and Reginald D.Hunter. Jessi J also shows up to sing and offers a video about why GOSH is a good cause – and she should know, as she spent time in the hospital as a child.
It’s a lot to fit into a couple of hours and so most of the comics only get five minutes, while a few like Lee Evans and Michael McIntyre get 10. The result is that it often seems like each comedian has to go just as they’re getting going, but on the flipside, if someone comes along who you don’t think is funny, you don’t need to worry as a few minutes later someone else will be along who’ll hopefully tickle your funny bone a bit more. And there’s a lot of good stuff here, from Jack Whitehall talking about watching a taping of Jeremy Kyle to Reginald D. Hunter on the difficulty of living in Britain for years and then going back to visit the US.
While it might have been nice to have fewer comedians who were each given slightly more time, the setup certainly ensures you get plenty of bang for your buck. Personally I could have done without the likes of Lee Evans, Jonathan Ross, Lee Nelson (who seems keen to set the class wars back a few decades) and Keith Lemon, but elsewhere there’s a great mix of funny veterans like Jo Brand and Sean Lock, mixed in with great sets from up and comers such as Josh Widdicombe and Seann Walsh.
One issue to bear in mind though is that this was filmed last May, and so some of the comedy seems a little out of date, as quite a few comics talk about the upcoming Jubilee and Olympics. While these bits don’t work too well now those events have been and gone, it’s only a minor issue.
The only special feature is a selection of ads featuring Allan Carr and Jimmy Carr, which mix real commercials for the likes of GoCompare and Snickers, but with funny bits from the comics edited in, to help promote the Comedy Gala. They’re fairly amusing but nothing amazing.
Overall Verdict: There’s a lot of good comedy from this gala that brings together a lot of the best comedians working in Britain today. While some of the stand-up may not work for you, and it would have been better is a lot of them had more than five minutes, it’s all still very funny.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac