Rare and terrific British comedy - and the dvds are Region 0
Kevin Turvey | Memphis TN USA | 04/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Peter Cook, Rowan Atkinson, Michael Palin, Eleanor Bron, Dawn French & Jennifer Saunders, Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie, Neil Innes, Lenny Henry, Robbie Coltrane, Ade Edmondson, Terry Jones, Tim Brooke-Taylor...and lots more, too many to list...this collection of performances from benefit shows for Amnesty International is an absolute MUST for all British comedy fans. Yes, a couple of the later shows are awful, and yes, most of the musical guests are annoying and unwanted. But who cares? This set is full of comic treasures you won't see anywhere else. Peter Cook fans will be particularly delighted as he renders his finest monologue of all time (written specifically for this show), performs great sketches with his big fan John Cleese, and joyously reunites with Dudley Moore. Some of Rowan Atkinson's earliest and finest live work is here, and he also gets to do terrific things with Cleese. There's the definitive version of the Beyond the Fringe sketch "End of the World", terrific Neil Innes performances, and Jennifer Saunders ushering a musical guest offstage because he's "gone a bit, you know, boring." "House, MD" fans can see Hugh Laurie with his longtime comedy partner Stephen Fry, mocking the very concept of comedy in their surreal Hedge Sketch. And more and more! I can't possibly list all the great stuff in this huge collection, but I definitely recommend it! (It's a good-quality dvd set, indexed by sketch, so it's easy to queue up all the good bits and ignore the rest. )
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you buy the complete "Silver Edition" 25th anniversary 5-disc set, not the earlier issue that looks similar but has a black cover. The complete set is made in England but it's Region 0 and plays just fine on American machines. It has all the shows as well as a music-only special (yawwwn!) and a full disc of excellent documentary including oodles of great interviews with many of the participants (Fry, Cleese, Saunders, Palin, many more). Definitely check with your seller before you buy to make sure you get the right one."
Funny as funny can be
S J Buck | Kent, UK | 10/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This wonderful boxed set of the charity comedy concerts from 1976 through to 1991 contains some of the best live comedy/satire ever produced. Everybody will have their favourites, but two or three standout for me.
The four Yorkshire sketch is a masterpiece. Somehow I had never heard the Python original prior to seeing this version. So this remains my favourite. "Our Dad used to slice us in two with bread knife"... etc etc.
However best of all is Peter Cook. We are so lucky that he performed at these shows and in particular that his marvellous skit on the Judges summing up of the Jeremy Thorpe (the then leader of the Liberal Party) related trial is captured on film as well as in sound - "I would like to pay a personal tribute to Mr Thropes husband Miriam...."
Another excellent sketch that Cook contributes to is the one with John Cleese on the park bench. Cook has minutes of tedious dialogue (from his character E L Whisty) during which Cleese is trying to read the paper and getting more and more irratated with Cook. In fact at one point Cleese almost loses it and laughs. In the end Cooks dialogue is rewarded with a classic Cleese rant to which Cook replies "How very interesting!".
Rowan Atkinson makes a number of memorable appearances as previous reviewers have pointed out and many other well known comedians contribute ably to the whole proceedings.
The music DVD is a mixed bag, but there are some great moments. The rarity of seeing Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck performing on stage together on 'Further on up the Road' and Pete Townsend performing 'Pinball Wizard' solo being the highlights for me.
The boxed set is well packaged on four discs and the total running time is 581 mins (9 hours and 41 minutes), so you get a lot for your money."