There’s no doubt that Lee Evans is a master of his trade. Working his way up from the alternative comedy circuit, he eventually found his way into huge stadium gigs (as well as a decent sideline in movie acting). The very fact that he’s able to fill these huge arenas time and time again is truly testament to the skill of the man, as well as his determination and infectious personality.
Clearly, then, his comedy credentials really need no questioning, and the fact that this DVD is made up of one hour and 45 minutes of bits from three of his highly successful stadium tours indicates the source material is all likely to be of the highest class. (The tours in question are Lee Evans: Wired And Wonderful, Live At Wembley (2002), Lee Evans: XL Tour Live (2005), Lee Evans: Big Live At The O2 (2008).)
However, the likely problems with this kind of format are blatant even before you start watching, and it should come as no surprise that the result can succinctly be described as choppy. Although Evans begins the DVD with a short introduction and then ends it with a ‘thanks for watching’ message, and the whole thing is divided into broad categories (Driving, Holidays, Shopping, Animals and more), the general experience is one that’s eventually quite tiring, rather than entertaining.
There’s no doubt that some of it is very funny, especially when you get a couple of minutes of continuous footage. But all too often tiny sound bites are spliced in, which attribute heavily to an overall lack of cohesiveness. Often, you’ll laugh at one of the jokes, and it will cut to another one, but you’ll be left longing to hear where he was going to go with the last one. This whole format is anathema to a man whose comedy is so distinctly led by his personality and physicality, and you also miss the joy of watching him get progressively more drenched in sweat as the gig goes on.
Lee Evans: Access All Arenas is little more than a chance to wring a few more pennies out of old material, but, frankly, the concept behind it is poor. If you wanted to read the greatest novels of all time, you probably wouldn’t buy a book filled with the best paragraphs from each (unless you’re a complete div). It would be far more beneficial and entertaining to read each and every book in full.
If you already own all the original DVDs, then you’ll have seen all this material, and if you don’t, then I would highly recommend buying them rather than this shameless, third-rate cash-in. In the case of the latter, it will also benefit Mr Evans himself, as he’ll sell three discs instead of one.
With such a poor excuse for the main attraction, it’s left to the extras to pick up the slack. In this case, you get a 20-minute interview (called Lee Evans Even Closer, and carried out by Phil Jupitus) and Last Of The Little ‘Uns, which appears to be a condensed version of a smaller gig. To be honest, this stuff is far more enjoyable. The interview shows what a naturally funny and thoughtful man Evans is, and the other extra includes some fine material, such as a frenetic mime of an entire band.
If there was more of this kind of stuff on the disc, it might well be worth making the purchase, but as it is, it’s a prime example of fantastic source material being screwed up in the pursuit of cold commercial interests. Lee Evans deserves better than this, and so do you.
Get Lee Evans – Access All Arenas [DVD] at the Den of Geek Amazon Store