Rowan Atkinson Live!
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If you've laughed at his wordless antics as the beleauguered Mr. Bean, wait'll you hear him talk! This live 1991 Boston performance showcases Rowan Atkinson's remarkably versatile talent as he rolls through hilarious characters and routines, including a couple that Bean fans are sure to recognize. 1991/color/60 min/NR/fullscreen.
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This show has both silent pieces ala his Mr.Bean persona as well as biting monologues and a bit of material that is a combination of both his physical ability and verbal wit. It's a wonderful collection of sketches and comedy bits captured in his live stage show.
This particular collection has him in the nineteen nineties in live performance in Boston. He looks quite young and it's interesting to see some of the genesis of his later work already being explored. The man has a fertile imagination and is a brilliant performer.
Now, a big knock against A&E, enough to give the release itself zero stars (I wish Amazon allowed for multiple ratings, so we could rate the performance separate from its media presentation). A&E apparently hates the hearing impaired. For years they have released countless shows on disc without any form of closed captioning or subtitles. What's mind boggling about that is, in many cases, the captioning is available to them, but they opt not to use it, instead "cleaning" the footage of such encoding. (In fact, A&E television programs are almost always captioned.) I can't fathom why, but it does result in lost sales.
I'm not deaf, but I do have a hearing problem. I overcome it with hearing aids and a good speaker system on my video, but I rarely buy A&E releases; I either rent them or wait for their appearance on TV. But I've bypassed buying scores of A&E releases -- everything from the entire release sets of Poirot to Jeeves & Wooster to Space: 1999 -- for lack of any form of captioning and/or subtitles.
FWIW, I have contacted A&E about it; the polite response was that the company did not feel their normal viewership/customer base needed captioning or subtitles to justify the additional cost.
Sorry for the rant. 5 stars to Mr. Atkinson and a superb performance; 0 to A&E for another shaft to the hearing impaired.
I first saw this on cable several years ago. Anyone who enjoys Rowan Atkinson's comedic talents is in for a good time with this program. Recorded during a performance in Boston in 1991, it includes some classic irreverent jabs at British schools, religion, and social conventions. Atkinson appears supported by Angus Deayton as his straight man and narrator. Some routines are better than others, but humor is about as subjective as anything can get, so the bits that I didn't like as much might be the best things on the disk to someone else.
My favorite moments include "A Warm Welcome", in which Rowan plays the Devil as a polite, somewhat smarmy host in a smoking jacket welcoming the Damned - which ends up being just about everyone - to Hell. Some of the groups who are damned wholesale are startling and hilarious. "With Friends Like These..." involves Deayton narrating the horrors of his wedding day, with Atkinson portraying, in rapid succession, the lecherous priest who did the honors, his sillyass best man giving an incoherent and incriminating speech at the reception, and his new and utterly drunken father-in-law giving a heartfelt toast to the man he thinks his daughter should have married and an irreversible rejection of the groom's family. I spurn you as I would spurn a rabid dog... "Pink Tights and Plenty of Props" features Deayton as a professor of theatre giving a lecture on classic performance while Atkinson acts out the instructions on stage. It defies description without giving its best moments away, so I'll simply say it left me gasping. Other routines highlight Atkinson's considerable talent as a visual comedian - "It Started with a Sneeze" showed up in a Mr. Bean program later. In "Invisible Man" he mimes the reaction of a tube rider as the titular character messes with him mercilessly, and in "A Final Bash" he plays a janitor who accidentally discovers an invisible drum kit and, after groping around trying to figure out what's what, ends up playing them flawlessly in pantomime.
The three deleted skits that are included with the DVD are of the same high quality. "Elementary Courting for Men" is my favorite of these, with Deayton again delivering the lecture and Rowan acting out the do's and don't's of a perfect date. When Deayton advises "Not to look like a complete idiot when she opens the door", a door swings open on the stage to reveal Atkinson looking more idiotic than ever before or since. "Guys after the Game" has Atkinson alone on stage as an exquisitely polite maitre de at an Indian restaurant that has been besieged by drunken football hooligans. "Tom, Dick, and Harry" features Atkinson, for the third time in the program, as a clergyman delivering the eulogy for Tom - blind and deaf - Dick - deaf and dumb - and Harry - blind and dumb - who have died together in a freak accident. The punchline is his prediction of Tom's contribution to the Angels' Choir when the three of them reach Heaven and I suggest that you swallow whatever you're drinking before he speaks it.
This is a mandatory program for Rowan Atkinson fans and would be a great introduction to his work for the uninitiated.