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.
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 :-)
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.
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.