Marcus Brigstocke is a funny man. We know this – his Radio 4 work is excellent, he’s been a strong host of Have I Got News For You, and the likes of News Knight offer a genuine platform for his talents.
His stand-up DVD is also entertaining, a 70-minute insight into Brigstocke’s mind that rarely takes the easy path, and finds him wringing laughs out of very ambitious material.
The main feature itself take in a variety of topics clearly close to Brigstocke’s heart: among the many things that rear their heads are environmental issues, David Blaine (“the git wizard”), stretch limos, immigration and, oddly, corduroy. These are not, as you’ve probably worked out, the usual ingredients for a comedy gig, and he covers topics of such gravitas that sometimes you can’t help but wonder if you’re allowed to laugh at them. The story, particularly, of one man’s comments about his wife is close to the edge, and there’s some discomfort to the humour.
Yet Brigstocke is a talented performer, and manages to pull things through. And while his main stand-up feature isn’t flat-out uproarious, it is funny, and it does have something to say. It’s odd: it’s a good gig, as much because it’s actually as interesting as it is amusing.
If you’re in search of some added laughs, then there’s some smashing material on the generous extras selection. One of our major complaints with comedy DVDs is that you get a streamlined version of a gig on the disc, bereft of the little idiosyncrasies at each venue and with each performance. Here, we get a flavour of those, as included is a short-but-funny selection of Q&As that Brigstocke performed as part of his shows. We could happily have watched a full feature of these, not least when Brigstocke claims ownership of his Pac-man joke, that was seized upon apparently by a Nintendo employee.
Furthermore, the behind the scenes tour documentary, while short, does catch Brigstocke at key moments (and there’s an optional commentary track on this feature too). Again, this is the kind of stuff that people seem reluctant to include on comedy DVDs, and they really should. The lighting director’s commentary, meanwhile, is a straight piss take, and a funny one at that.
Brigstocke is an interesting, opinionated and entertaining stand-up, able to evoke laughs from subjects seemingly barren of comic potential. His set is a bit up and down, and there are times when the balance between the serious and the humour gets perhaps a little tighter than you’d like for a stand-up gig. But Planet Corduroy is nonetheless a good show, on a DVD backed up with some genuinely interesting extra features.