Not Quite Revolutionary Stand-up Comedy,
This review is from: Mark Steel - Vive La Revolution  [DVD] (DVD)
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I've been a fan of Mark Steel's lectures that were shown on BBC4 for quite a while now, so the chance to get hold of a DVD of him doing historical-based comedy proved a very tempting proposition indeed.
The Mark Steel Lectures were one of the finest shows on telly when they were shown, mixing a lecture on the importance of a historical figure with well judged comic interludes and funny recreations of said figure's life, usually transporting them into a modern context, Beethoven as a spoiled punk, Mary Shelley as a Goth and so on. It proved to be very entertaining but also very insightful, providing a guide to the figure's life and a presentation by Steel as to why their contribution mattered. It was a brilliant way to teach, the viewer being entertained while at the same time informed.
Vive La Revolution is in a way a live version of the lectures taking in a full period of history. Steel presents a lecture about the French Revolution and why it matters to society. It's not dry though as he infuses it with great humour and introduces many of the characters that were involved, often allowing them to speak in their own words thanks to readings from letters.
While doing this he sometimes breaks into a straight forward stand-up routine. it can be a bit jarring, but it is funny nonetheless. Steel is a very funny stand-up, but be warned, he has a habit of swearing, so if you were planning on using this as an educational tool then it's best to check the age of your audience.
It's not perfect, some of the historical events feels a little skimmed over, although that is understandable, and the show itself seems to be a little confused as to what it is. It's as if Steel decided he wanted to present this lecture but was a little afraid that it wouldn't be entertaining enough so injected bits of his normal stand-up act to spice it up a bit. That said it is very funny, and presents a case for a period of history that is too often overlooked that is very compelling.