Amongst the raft of comedy DVD releases arriving this Christmas lies a real treat: Rich Hall’s first stand-up disc release, which just happens to be a double bill with his alter ego, country and western singer Otis Lee Crenshaw. In the guise of the latter, Hall has starred in a comedy DVD release in the past, but this is the first time his own solo stand-up work has been unleashed this way.
The pity is that his show spends half the time with his own stand-up work, before turning over the second half to Otis. The problem with that is that I’d happily have had a disc devoted to each, as both leave you salivating for that little bit more.
I’ve seen Rich Hall live several times, and he remains one of the downright cleverest and quick-witted comedians on the circuit (and, inevitably, he’s even better live). Happily admitting that the end of George W Bush’s term in office has robbed him of much of his material, he nonetheless expertly plays the crowd, before turning his mind to a blistering deconstruction of Kanye West’s book, a gleeful look at America’s inconceivable $11bn debt, and his brilliant summation of Tom Cruise’s back catalogue. If you’ve seen him on the road over the past few years then one or two routines may be familiar, but the man’s delivery is so sublime, you can’t help but be drawn in.
And if you’ve never had the pleasure of Otis Lee Crenshaw, you’re in for a treat, too. Along with the backing band The Honkey Tonk Assholes, Hall tears up the stage here, be it fumbling through – to great comedy effect – an attempted improvised song, or belting out one of his favourites such as Piano Is Like A Woman or Do Anything You Want To The Girl (Just Don’t Hurt Me). He’s clearly having a lot of fun with his alter ego, and it’s a solid act purely for its musical side, even before the comedy sets in.
Hall has been sparingly touring Otis Lee Crenshaw for many, many years, and the act translates very well to a DVD recording. Whereas many stand-up discs tend to be spun and forgotten about once Christmas is done and dusted, Hell No I Ain’t Happy is likely to have a far better fate than sitting next to Jethro’s disc in the bargain bucket, as Hall suspects.
The disc itself feels like a greatest hits of both sides of Rich Hall, and hopefully paves the way for a full 90 minutes of Hall’s stand-up alone in the future. As it stands, you do get his appearance on Live At The Apollo as an extra feature, which is a good taster, but as anyone who has sat through one of the man’s live shows can testify, there’s so much more to come.
A strong, and very welcome, release.
The Feature:The Extras:
Rich Hall with Special Guest Otis Lee Crenshaw And The Honky Tonk A**holes Hell No I Ain’t Happy Live at The Apollo is out now.