Ricky Gervais Live 2

Starring: Ricky Gervais
Universal Pictures (UK) Limited
RRP: 21.99
Certificate: 18
Available 15 November 2004

Filmed in front of a live audience at the Palace Theatre in London in 2004, the theme of Ricky Gervais's latest show is politics, though he does have a tendency to digress. Tackling such political hot potatoes as Thora Hird, being mistaken for Johnny Vegas, beret wearing students and Humpty Dumpty, this is not for the faint-hearted nor is it very PC...

Politics is Ricky Gervais's second live performance DVD, following the successful Animals tour. Live recordings of shows have never really appealed to me. The majority of the time the comic never really lives up to the hype. And, in truth, Gervais switches between material a bad '80s comic would have used - analysing nursery rhymes and musing on how the Spastics Society's name change to Scope now means that you can't get a laugh out of calling kids "spastics" any more. The later example was just one of a couple of 'jokes' that I've heard from other comics - and a little out dated.

In fact, that seemed to be a common thread here. A lot of the material would have been a lot funnier if it had been performed ten or twenty years ago. Unfortunately, in today's society, a lot of the observations are too out of date. Gervais attacks Thora Hird... fine, but she's been dead for a while now; makes observations about Nelson Mandela's incarceration... he's been free for years now; and generally potters along with what seems like old material.

Gervais, every once in a while, lets his alter ego, David Brent from The Office, slip through. I wasn't sure whether this was intentional, to appease the numerous The Office fans who no doubt turned up to his show expecting to see Brent, or whether that is how Gervais really is?

DVD Extras include the bonus film Living With Ricky (a behind the scenes look at Ricky and Robin Ince on tour; Meet Karl Pilkington - An Interview With Ricky Gervais (which sees Ricky discussing the subjects in his show with his XFM producer), DVD commentary by Ricky Gervais and Robin Ince; Robin on Stage and Politics Short (a rather pointless extra as it simply repeats the short film that opens up the Politics show.

I have to admit to being intrigued by these extras. Living With Ricky makes Gervais out to be a psychotic nutter with Tourettes Syndrome, who stalks his old friend Ince trying to think up new and painful ways to irritate him.

Meet Karl Pilkington is a bizarre interview with Gervais's XFM producer. This is brilliantly funny - assuming that Pilkington is not the racist, misguided fool that he comes across as. Gervais asks Pilkington his views on some of the subjects that were raised in Politics. Gems in the interview include: On foreigners - 'The Chinese. They're alright, as long as they keep themselves to themselves'; On OAPs - 'You never see them eating Twixs'; On the disabled - 'I like freaks.' Sadly, though, I really do know people who will share a lot of his views.

The audio commentary is amusing. Neither Ince nor Gervais actually comment on the tour very much. Instead, Gervais reads a diary he was keeping for Ince on the tour - very surreal.

The RRP for this release is rather odd. £21.99 seems a bizarre price to pay for this DVD which really offers nothing that special when compared to other DVDs in this style.

If, like me, your only real experience of Gervais is from his work on The Office, you may be a little disappointed by this release. It's not that it isn't funny - it is - it's just that there were a few too many jokes were I wasn't sure whether the opinions expressed were firmly held convictions, or Gervais extracting the urine out of society at large.

Nick Smithson

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