DVD: Lee Evans: Access All Arenas
Full marks to Lee Evans’ PR and management team. Faced with the question of how the comic could wring a few more quid out of his huge UK tour they came up with a gem; a best of DVD of his last three arena tours.
Lee Evans: Access all Arenas showcases the best bits of the sweat-drenched funnyman’s 2002, 2005 and 2008 jaunts around the UK. This sees material selected from the Wired and Wonderful Live at Wembley, XL Tour Live and Big Live at the O2 DVDs packaged as a single-disc best of.
The DVD is split into 20 sections, each divided by a rather unnecessary title screen and unbelievably annoying tune. While there are 20 different sections, these really could have been condensed to four or five as the vast majority of the material centres of Evans’ relationship with his wife.
In fact even when he isn’t talking about relationships he soon ends up back on the topic, such as in a skit about driving in which he talks about the nightmare of driving with his wife in the passenger seat. It’s the kind of material that has been done to death by comics over the years, but he somehow makes it fresh and funny, although I wouldn’t fancy being in the back seat of his car given his apparent attachment to his satnav.
The DVD is littered with superb observations that seem so small and insignificant, yet immediately hit a cord and are spun out into fantastic lines and skits. Somehow, Evans manages to make anything and everything from buying a pair of sunglasses to using a trouser press seem hilarious.
His material is perfectly complemented by his delivery and surroundings. The vast arenas suit his manic, wild-eyed style far better than the small clubs ever could. Of course, in typical music hall fashion, Evans finishes with a song, well a song of sorts. The final chapter is devoted to the almost legendary Bohemian Rhapsody mimed performance that has served Evans so well over the years, always managing to get a big laugh and end a show on a high. It certainly ends this performance on a welcome note.
But, that is not quite the end. There’s also a generous selection of extras, including a best of round-up from the 1998 Live in Scotland DVD and an exclusive interview conducted by Phil Jupitus that gives a real insight into Evans’ life and career.
While on first glance Access All Arenas may appear to be something of a Christmas cash-in, it is actually a superb collection of some of one of Britain’s finest-ever comedians’ stand-out moments. Newcomers and casual fans will find plenty to keep them laughing, while die-hards will enjoy the carefully selected material and bonus features.
Special Features: Lee Evans Even Closer, Last of the Little ‘Uns
Lee Evans: Access All Arenas is out now via Universal Home Entertainment
By Richard Chamberlain