Rhod Gilbert And The Award-Winning Mince Pie
DVD review by Steve Bennett
Even now, 15 months after Rhod Gilbert unveiled this show at the Edinburgh Fringe, it still seems a travesty that a festive pastry-based service-station snack should have won an award, while this hugely original, hilariously passionate and expertly constructed lesson in stand-up brilliance went ungarlanded.
Even on DVD, the extended rant works on many levels: it’s simultaneously observational comedy about middle-aged frustrations, a sarcastically satirical take on the mindless corporate approach to customer service, an explosive diatribe from an easily wound-up grouch and a whimsical slice of fantasy.
Many of the component sections are exquisite pieces of stand-up: his realisation that his penis is so old it remembers Harold Wilson, the incomprehensible tog system of duvets, and his unexpected behaviour in the toilets at Knutsford service station in the small hours are all potential classics.
It was during his M6 pit-stop that he found the eponymous mince pie, the only foodstuff on offer at such an ungodly hour. The discovery, by his account, tipped him over the edge into the abyss of nervous breakdown.
In the build-up to this, we here about his troubles in life and on the road, of the range of bad gigs from the butchers of the year award to an Afghanistan military base and – more life-endangering than that – an Ebbw Vale ballroom that is hardly the stuff of Cinderella fairytale.
That all this weaves into his narrative is impressive, fuelling a proper story that will have you gripped as this pressurised Welshman gets increasingly irate at every obstacle life – and the Café Ritazza – can throw in his way. The show crescendos wonderfully, as Gilbert’s disproportionate response to the inane becomes increasingly rabid – and increasingly understandable.
There are solid, sustained laughs from start to finish; and not just because of Gilbert’s raging delivery. As he reads quietly the letter from the manager of the service station, patiently addressing his complaints in unemotional corporate lingo, subtle details of the story that previously went unsaid combine with a skillful, sober, retelling of the madness to create the perfectly funny climax.
There’s subtlety and reason to Gilbert’s anger, making this one of the better DVD choices you could make this month – especially at the bargain £6.98 Amazon’s currently selling it for.
Main feature: 77mins
Extras: Back To Llanbobl (17mins), a sweetly funny mockumentary about his return to his fictional home town. Luggage: A new version of his six-minute routine that has been such a hit on YouTube hit; 11mins of outtakes including his preamble to the audience and a rather bitter rebuke to the chatty girls who threatened to ruin the recording.
Released by: 4DVD, November 23
Price: £19.99. Click here to buy from Amazon for £6.98
Posted: 27 Nov 2009