If you missed the live performance by The League of Gentlemen you missed a classic. The video must be the next best thing and will be an essential for me.
Two series by this trio have already carved a niche for them with an individual brand of dark humour which centres on the fictional village of Royston Vasey. Characters include shopkeepers Edward and Tubbs (part pig, part depraved humans), tyrannical restart officer Pauline, butcher Hilary Briss (who trades in 'special' meat suspected to be human), and the bizarre freak show master Pa Lazarou. Although distinctly Pythonesque, the type of comedy defies definition and is very much their own. It shocks but doesn't rely on blunt shock laughs, it develops the bizarre yet still aims to be more than just 'wacky'.
The stage show features excerpts from the first two series including the classic card game 'Go Johnny Go Go Go Go', newsagent Pops' discovery of the missing chocolate bars, Pamela's audition and Pauline's outburst at Ross. A few new characters are introduced, but the old ones still dominate. The return of Edward and Tubbs is classic, and the trial of Pauline, calling witnesses including her replacement and the dopey Mickey, is unforgettable.
The highlight for me was the performance by theatre company 'Legs Akimbo' of their summary of northern life. Everything 'Legs Akimbo' have done in the series has been so close to reality in parodying over enthusiastic theatre that it's almost too real to be funny, but The League's form of comedy has achieved it's individuality by pushing back boundaries. 'Legs Akimbo' live dropped jaws and left the entire audience transfixed, scared to laugh in case they missed anything, and like the entire evening I watched, was performed with precision.
With such strong characters and strong performances, it's hard to conceive that the evening I saw was played out by just three men, but it's a tribute to how well worked the night was, and how well the characters have been presented.
It's rare to laugh as much, and considering the general poor standard of TV programmes, these guys deserve to stand out. From this position they rose further to create an unforgettable stage show which won't be forgotten.