on 8 August 2006
Vic Reeves Big Night Out was always a bit of an acquired taste, but if like me, you found it a groundbreaking new style of comedy and utterly hilarious, you'll welcome the chance to get the two Channel 4 series from 1990/1991 on DVD.
My only gripe with this set would be that it doesn't include the 45 minute "New Year's Eve Special" which was broadcast in between the two series, and if I recall featured a guest appearance by gorgeous female pop star Kim Wilde :)
Also, as other reviewers have noted, it is edited rather clumsily in places to remove ad-breaks and the odd swear word.
on 27 March 2009
A couple of people have commented that they bought this DVD from their love of 'Shooting Stars' or 'Smell of'. I did too, I adored shooting stars as a kid and found 'Smell of' hilarious. Naturally I wanted to see where it all started, so I bought Big Night Out.
I have to admit at first I was disappointed, it was much less refined than their later stuff. It seemed a hell of a lot more nonsensical and the characters, novelty island and Les were downroad bizzare and I thought a little moronic.
I left the DVD at that and didn't touch it for 2 years.
I got back into watching Vic and Bob after their Xmas special Shooting Stars, and when I returned to BNO I found it HILARIOUS. It felt like something had clicked and I just 'got' it. Now I watch it all the time and piss myself constantly, I marvel at the genius of characters like Lister, Wavey Davey, the ponderers etc. I adore all the catchphrases and yell them at my TV.
BNO is incredibly different to Shooting Stars, and to a lesser extent their other work. This was when they were at the craziest, least edited, least refined. It comes on very strongly but once you've aquired a taste for it, its the funniest thing you'll ever see. I'm right naive me, but happy :-)
on 19 September 2005
I remember accidentally bumping into this on Channel 4 (I must have been fifteen or something), and thinking "What is this low budget pap?". I must have bumped into it a few more times and suddenly the penny dropped. This truly is some of the best comedy I've ever witnessed. It's pretty unique, and if you've not already had it, it may take a few episodes before you have your "Eureka" moment, but when you do, it really is fantastic. Like the other reviewers here, I'd suggest this is probably the cream of Vic and Bob's work so far, although perhaps the least accessible.
I'm guessing that most people reading this probably already know that they love this series, so perhaps a little info about the DVDs themselves. It's stashed on two DVDs (not crammed onto one or anything), so the picture quality is everything it should be. There's only really one extra, and that's a nice little interview by Matt Lucas (seen as George Dawes on Shooting Stars, and star of Little Britain), which is dead interesting and reasonably long. The entire first and second series are present, but unfortunately the New Years Eve special (or maybe it was Christmas, I dunno) featuring Kim Wilde is missing.
As you might guess, I'd totally recommend this - I regard it as an extraordinarily significant step in the history of British commedy (which unfortunately most people don't seem to have latched onto), and if I need to cheer myself up, this is likely to be the DVD I reach for. Either that, or the Mighty Boosh. Hey - why not buy 'em both? I did. They're well spanky.
on 14 August 2005
Vic Reeves, the stage name and persona of Art School graduate Jim Moir, reinvented and revamped British comedy in the late eighties and early nineties with this show. His 'Big Night Out' had been a dadaist comedy revue in a London pub on Thursday nights until Jonathan Ross and the then heads of Channel Four saw a comedy gem and offered them the contract that took the pub-based comedy show to Friday nights on Channel Four.
Their humour was non-political, random and truly surreal - not the knowing word-association Monty Python passed off as surrealism, but more the creation of stupid and irrational situations. If any Python influence was to be cited it was Eric Idle's 'Rutland Weekend Television'
'Big Night Out' had Vic Reeves as a desk-bound master of ceremonies for a parade of infantile (in a good way) characters and impractically weird events. Bob Mortimer was his partner in crime. Both played characters and contributed to the kinetic comedy with roles ranging from the pathos-inducing Man With The Stick (a paper-mask wearing, pole-carrying man in a suit who had surreal cartoons drawn over his mask and invited audiences to beg the question "What's on the end of the stick Vic?") to the vile pervert Graham Lister. This was Vic's arch enemy, a trouserless mac-wearer whose attempts to win each week's 'Novelty Island' were dampened by Vic.
Les was the only recurring character not played by Vic or Bob, but by Fred Aylward.
Vic and Bob have lost something of the brilliance they exhibited here, but this is the two at their most iconic.
on 12 January 2014
I looked forward to getting this DVD after the ex decided the VHS version would look good on a fire. The humour is priceless, but the editing is not that good - especially when going out to the adverts with lines being hacked around.
on 25 March 2011
The first and last time I watched this was when it was originally shown in 1990 and 1991. I remember loving it at the time (I was 16 or 17) but really wondered what I would think (particularly as I am in a minority of people who thinks that Monty Python get less funny the older you get).
Well, I was amazed. Twenty years later and this does not look dated at all and it is still as funny. In the same way that it was hard to explain why it was funny in the first place I still cannot explain why two men mucking around with stuffed squirrels or with carpet squares on their faces is hilarious.
What really struck me watching several episodes back to back is the number of characters who came and went in each series. I recalled the Living Carpets being on far more than the two times that they actually appeared to dine at Les's Lunch Club.
Big Night Out will not be everyone's cup of tea, but I love it for its sheer battiness. Perhaps it does not look dated as its uniqueness made it impossible to imitate. Reeves and Mortimer are Great British eccentrics (even thought the former is a workshy fop).
Series one has six episodes, series two eight and there is a 30-minute documentary which is very good.
on 6 May 2006
Although I'm overjoyed that this sublime piece of nonsense is finally out on DVD and although I'm loath to make any negative comments, I do feel compelled to make the following points, which could potentially be amended in any future re-issue:
1. There are no extras to speak of except a low budget but quite interesting interview / documentary. BBC3 have recently shown a documentary explaining the backgroung to VRBNO and assessed it's place in the comedy pantheon which was far more illuminating.
2. The (few) swearwords are removed as they were on the early evening C4 repeats - but how old are we, 12?
3. The subtitles make the occasional howler such as "... Alan Davis and the cheeky foul-mouthed fox" instead of "... Alan Davison, the cheeky foul-mouthed fox" - pedantic I know as I'm not even hard of hearing but sloppy isn't it?
4. The halfway ad break of each episode is disguised rather clumsily and as a result a few seconds of Vic gibberish is lost each time.
on 3 April 2007
I watched this show when it was first aired back in 1990; I was only a kid and had seen nothing like it before, even then I knew I was witnessing something special with Big Night Out. All I could remember from the show was: the Man with the stick, Les and his spirit level, bits of Novelty Island, and of course, the immortal line ''you wouldn't let it lie'' - which, like any other self respecting 10-year of the time, I had etched onto my pencil case to show I was a true fan. So as to why it took me so long to buy this series on DVD I don't know. Maybe part of me was apprehensive it wouldn't live up to it's glory, and all the magic of 'Big Night Out' was just conjured up in a blurry memory. Turns out I was wrong; this show is every bit as funny as it was 17 years ago - in fact funnier - and I'd urge any like-minded folk to rush out and buy it as soon as possible.
There's the joy of finding characters like Donald & David Stott in their earliest incarnation, the way Vic & Bob giggle their way unprofessionally through the interview makes you realise they ARE having as much fun as they appear to be having. Thankfully, you can't fake the kind of chemistry that these two share, and on these shows you can see it in bloom at a time when they were making comedy to make people (mostly themselves) laugh, as opposed to making comedy to make money - as is the inkling of their more mainstream shows like Shooting Stars.
The songs are as fabulously daft as anything performed on 'Smell of' or 'Bang Bang' (NB, if you do buy this & are wanting the songs on their own, try and get hold of 'I will cure you' by Vic Reeves, as most of the material on the CD is featured on this show), the suits are sharp, the props are as elaborate with acute attention to detail, the characters are as random and the laughs as chaotic and unpredictable as any other R&M product. You either can't find any humour in it, or you will be captivated by the imagination and energy.
I can't compare Reeves & Mortimer to anyone else; for me they'll be the kings of comedy until the end of time. They're like punk rock - they break all rules, they're fresh, exciting, shambolic, effortless at the same time as being hugely creative, original and inspirational. 'Big Night Out' has such an innovative, unrehearsed manner, without the taste of commercial success that was to follow. More to the point, the DVD is cheap, cheerful and full of charm. The second series especially, sees the genuine partnership fall into place and you appreciate the title should have been altered to 'Vic & Bob's Big Night Out'.
Love 'em or loathe 'em, there'll never be another double act like this pair, and sadly, they'll never recapture the dynamic youth and enthusiasm to put together a show like this again.
on 12 September 2013
One of the most influential and certainly one of the funniest comedy series ever, Vic Reeves Big Night Out, first broadcast almost 25 years, changed the landscape of British comedy and its still as totally hilarious as it was then. Joyously silly, brilliantly surreal and wonderfully cheap, with the great Graham Lister (and Mr Nabisco. Chairman of Nabisco) being my personal favourite characters. If you haven't seen this show, for goodness sake watch it. You will laugh heartily. Brilliant
A conversation at a dinner party led onto a discover of a mutual love of Vic and Bob with some friends I had known a while. I bought this DVD and we had a couple of nights chain watching the episodes.
There are some classic parts to these episodes - "What's on the end of the stick Vic?" - "Ooohh, what am I saying" - and many more.
I had forgotten how much of this is such great TV and very experimental stuff - well it worked for me!!