The Comedy Vault – Harry Hill Live.

Harry Hill has been on the stand-up comedy circuit since the late-80s, and is always referred to as “the big-collared comedian”. By the mid-90s, he had his own series on the radio and TV. And he also went on several successful tours. There have been six performances from various tours released on VHS and DVD, and I do have most of them. For this piece, I am going to look back at Man Alive, released in 1997.

This begins with “The Boy With The Big Face”, a short black-and-white story which is rather bizarre, and in a similar style to the Harry Hill’s Fruit Fancies series. After this, Harry comes on stage, and performs for about an hour. This was around the time of his first series on Channel 4, which was when I became a fan of his work, having always enjoyed the more surreal end of comedy.

I was very much looking forward to what he had to offer in this, but it’s fairly difficult to describe most of what he does really, he is someone who seemingly stops jokes about halfway though, and then finishes them off much later, or constantly repeating things (he randomly shouts “go away from the flats” on several occasions, I guess you had to be there).

There is a rather amusing joke about wigs though. Everyone was soon rolling in the aisles, as if they had been suddenly strapped to an aisle-rolling machine. And although he doesn’t sing or use props much in this show, he is accompanied by his good friend Stouffer the cat. Now when I first saw this on the TV, I did think that this was one of the silliest and funniest things that I had seen. Harry also gets someone from the audience up on stage to meet Stouffer, which is rather awkward.

And he also did his “two scoops of mash” anecdote, which has got to be one of his most famous routines that got him where he is today. This was all rather great fun. Go away from the flats. Bag of Maltesers. But it could be argued that the best is saved until last, as everyone got a treat when there was a badger parade! Well that has got to be one of the highlights.

You never really know what’s going to happen next. And of course after this, Harry went on to further success in various ITV shows, which still seemed unlikely at this time, but he did manage to make a mainstream breakthrough, and he has also released several books, and even made an album (let’s forget The Dandy for now though). What are the chances of that happening?

Go away from the flats.