Otis Lee Crenshaw

Otis Lee Crenshaw

Real name: Rich Hall
Rich Hall created this jailbird alter-ego for his Edinburgh shows in 1998, and he won the Perrier award two years later.

He was nominated for the Chortle award for best character, sketch or variety act in 2003, and for best touring comic in 2002.

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Rich Hall with Otis Lee Crenshaw: Hell No I Ain't Happy Live at The Apollo

DVD review by Steve Bennett

It's hard to believe this is Rich Hall's first DVD as himself. Having been in comedy long enough for his gravel-gargling voice to have inspired Simpsons barkeeper Moe Szyslak, you might have expected a sizeable back catalogue by now.

Even so, this is only half a Rich Hall DVD, the rest being dedicated to the swansong of his recidivist country-singing alter-ego Otis Lee Crenshaw. It proves a good mix, too, 45 minutes of stand-up is plenty, while his jailbird singer makes a fine concert recording, with witty earthy songs that burrow surreptitiously into your subconscious.

Hall’s half of the show is characterised by his ponderings about life as a comedian, split between the UK - where the misery is - and his native Montana. The rural backwater provides an evocative backdrop to such modern folk tales as the bizarre prairie dog controller, who sucks up the pests in a giant vacuum.

America’s $11trillion debt amuses him; it’s such an inconceivable sum that laughter is the only possible response. He certainly has that ability to laugh at the absurdity of adversity, which is probably more a British trait than an American one, but both cultures clearly fascinate him, as a slight outsider to both.

There’s some commentary on his job, too, which he describes as ‘saying intelligent things stupidly or stupid things intelligently’, while simultaneous celebrating and fearing the ephemeral nature of stand-up. His worst nightmare is that this DVD will be in a motorway service station’s bargain bin this time next year, next to Jethro’s. Let’s hope not.

As a debut recording, there are a few old faithfuls in the set, such as his riff on the template for Tom Cruise movies – which is a lesson in simple deconstruction, but may prove over-familiar to fans.

There are some Otis standards in his half of the DVD, too, especially the surprisingly catchy anti-love song Do Anything You Want To The Girl.

Crenshaw’s numbers are not parodies, but well-crafted country numbers in their own right, which will surely warrant repeated listening. Sometimes it’s easy to forget you’re watching a comedy DVD and not a special edition of Later with Jools Holland – until Hall slips another wryly smart line into the lyrics, that is.

Other tracks include the ballad to the kitchen appliance George Foreman Grill, Bag Lady about an unlikely sexual conquest and the anthemic Fuck Disney, which he somehow slipped past the lawyers.

Running time: 99mins
Extras: His Live At The Apollo set (14mins, with some overlap of material with the main feature)
Released by: Universal Pictures, November 23
Price: £19.99. Click here to buy from Amazon at £8.58

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Published: 17 Dec 2009

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Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2001

Otis Lee Crenshaw

Edinburgh Fringe 2002

Otis Lee Crenshaw: Pernicious

Edinburgh Fringe 2004

Otis Lee Crenshaw: Bourbonitis

Edinburgh Fringe 2008

Otis Lee Crenshaw [2008]

Misc live shows

Pimm's Summerfest


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