Recorded in 2001, Laughter My Arse
is a celebration of Ricky Tomlinsons ascendancy to the top table of British comic actors. The role which really established Tomlinsons popularity was through three series of Caroline Ahernes acclaimed Royle Family
sitcom. In this DVD he cashes in on the catch phrase of couch potato Jim Royle and takes us back to his roots in the working mens clubs of Liverpool.
Much of the programme consists of his one-man show. Royle Family fans will appreciate the humour which obviously informs Tomlinsons characterisation of Jim. But this act only tells half the story. He has also proved himself an accomplished and formidable performer in television drama and independent British films and with a bit more imagination, the producers could have come up with a more rounded portrait. The most poignant moments come outside the club when Tomlinson reminisces with friends and colleagues about the good old days when they were starting out on the club circuit. Anecdotes abound and Tomlinsons ability to make some pretty grim episodes funny says much about the fundamental warmth of the man. Even so, this is probably one for old fans rather than the idle curious.
On the DVD: the sound and picture quality are fine. If the producers had wanted to be truly authentic, they could have taken a grainier option for the comedy act sequences and harked back to the days of Granadas Wheel Tappers and Shunters Club show which was a staple of ITV schedules in the 1970s. If the comedy isnt your bag, the chapter selection option allows you to skip straight to the nostalgic reminiscence sequences and by way of extras, theres a small handful of mildly amusing outtakes. But essentially, this is a basic package rather than a comprehensive portrait.--Piers Ford
TV funnyman Ricky Tomlinson takes to the concert stage in this live comedy stand-up performance.