If you like your comedians the red-in-the-face, gasping for air, veins popping apoplectic sort, you’ll love Rhod Gilbert. If you need an American equivalent, think Bill Burr with a Welsh accent, but with more hour-length surreal scenarios, often criticizing marketing and advertising. All the standup DVDs below are worth a look, but if you have to pick just one, I’d say Rhod Gilbert and the Cat That Looked Like Nicholas Lindhurst is probably the best. These shows are not only available as separate DVDs but also as a box set and as comedy albums (audio CD or MP3s).
Rhod Gilbert is a Welsh standup comedian and host of Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience. He makes frequent appearances on panel shows and even hosted Nevermind the Buzzcocks for a while.
Rhod Gilbert Live 1: Rhod Gilbert and the Award-Winning Mince Pie (2009)
After years being accused of being a liar by the press and heckles from the audience about his home town of Llanbobl being a fictional place, Rhod Gilbert has finally thrown in the towel on all that surreal bullshit. Instead, the Welsh comedian spends an hour recounting the absolutely true tale of the time Gilbert had the cops called on him over an argument about an award-winning mince pie in the dining area of a roadside stop. Lest you think this a complicated tale, I should add that the story is riddled with Gilbert-typical tangents about the customer service industry, such as punching a duvet saleswoman (she didn’t get down when he yelled “duck!” because she thought “duck” was his selection of bird down) and what would happen if Gilbert’s mother were to obtain the phone number for the Taliban. It’s a good thing Gilbert spends the last bit of the show in a fold-up director’s chair (at these prices, who could afford not to buy two?) because in his exhausting rant, it looked like if he didn’t have a sit down, he’d collapse! In the end, we finally get to witness the reenactment of Gilbert’s psychotic breakdown over the mince pie and even watch a video of him stalking his pub mate who he’s sent on a wild goose chase to Llanbobl. All of it completely true. Ahem. Buy on Amazon.
Rhod Gilbert Live 2: Rhod Gilbert and the Cat That Looked Like Nicholas Lyndhurst (2010)
Rhod Gilbert is back and he’s still pissed off. Mostly he’s pissed at the press slagging off his mince pie show (“Gilbert makes Basil Fawlty look like the Dhali Lama”) and at a bloke called Alex, but a Swiss audience member gives them a run for their money during the opening crowd work. As before, Gilbert’s show is wrapped around one story that happened to him in the last 18 months, with elaborate digressions about the service industry, meant to be a “general point about the bullshit of selling stuff,” rather than a “minor irritation” as the Telegraph put it. The central story is about Alex, who brings Gilbert items related to the title of his shows at each gig and how Gilbert named this show Rhod Gilbert and the Cat That Looked Like Nicholas Lyndhurst just to fuck with Alex. But through a series of anger management misadventures (apparently planted by his subconscious), it turns out the joke is on him: Gilbert did have a cat that looked like Lyndhurst when he was a child, but he’d blocked it out because his dad had chucked it in the river after it weed on the carpet. This came out in a hypnosis therapy session after his anger management group recognized his anger as brain damage. “Nobody believes this bloody story,” Gilbert complains, but it must be, naturally, 100% true.
One of Gilbert’s greatest surrealist stories makes an appearance here: the story of how he ended up with 27 hoovers and 26 refrigerators. (Sorry, you’ll have to watch the show to find out how.) He also complains about washing machines and how his girlfriend dumped him after he tried to prove you can run faster if you take a poo first. Thank God all his aggression is focused on appliances and smoothy salesmen because he plays an unsettlingly realistic guy capable of ripping somebody’s head off.
After the show wraps up and all the threads come together in one epic outburst of anger and mishaps, just as it did in the mince pie show, Gilbert shares a video of a recent episode of his radio show where listeners sent in photographs of their cats who looked like performers and broadcasters. The final one is from Alex. He has found a cat that looks like Nicholas Lyndhurst. Buy on Amazon.
Rhod Gilbert Live 3: The Man with the Flaming Battenberg Tattoo (2012)
Looks like the anger management sessions have finally paid off! Rhod Gilbert, he insists, is now a more mellow person. He isn’t so angry. He no longer writes complaint letters to companies with bad customer service or stupid packaging. And most of all, he’s no longer petty. This is the story of that evolution.
All of Gilbert’s shows are stories–one central story with built-in detours. This is the story of the make-it-or-break-it trip with his girlfriend to New York. More accurately, it’s the few weeks leading up to the trip, which involve his fury at a toothbrush with a built-in computer given to him by his girlfriend for Christmas, an argument in Tescos over a package of two jacket potatoes (what if you want just one?), and an angry letter to a bath soap company. All of this gets documented in his anger management diary he’s been instructed to keep and now reads out on stage.
But the worst offender of all the events leading up to his trip is the tattoo. Rhod Gilbert has a BBC One show called Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience where he takes on various occupations. When he becomes a tattoo artist for a day, the crew bullies him into getting a tattoo. Just to show them how meaningless tattoos are, he gets the most meaningless thing he can think of: a battenberg cake on a pillow lit on fire. In his mind, he’s won the argument. Until he gets home and his girlfriend goes mental, mostly because she doesn’t like marzipan. He calms her down by offering to get matching tattoos with her that remind them of each other when they go to New York. Gilbert documents their argument in his diary and remembers that his ex liked battenberg cake, so he flippantly jots that down, too. This is the page his girlfriend reads while he’s in the lou at Heathrow Airport on their way to New York. Gilbert goes to New York without her.
The show ends with slides of Gilbert’s trip in New York. He’s brought along a jacket potato to share the romantic trip with. It concludes with him getting a tattoo of a potato on his other shoulder. Okay, so rest assured that Rhod Gilbert is still the petty, impulsive Rhod Gilbert we all know and love. Buy on Amazon.
JAIME POND IS THE EDITOR OF ANGLONERD. SHE LIVES AND WORKS IN NYC. FOLLOW HER ON TWITTER.