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The early 90s saw the return of the Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson double-act to BBC 2?s 9pm slot, with their comedy series ?Bottom.? The characters: fat, pathetic, middle-aged men with short tempers and little hope of a happy future, in some ways a logical progression of their ?Rick? and ?Vyvian? characters in the early 80s cmash, ?The Young Ones.? But where that earlier show relied on bizarre situations and an ensemble cast, Bottom focussed on extracting humour from the lives of its two lead characters, at least in the early days. TWO SAD PERVS That?s not to suggest that Bottom is on the whole sophisticated; most of it involves the characters hitting each other around the head and privates with all manner of household objects, or making smutty innuendoes regarding Richie?s virginity, but watching the series now I am able to appreciate some of the deeper significance that Rik and Adrian intended. The whole tone reflects their sad lives, while there is an unseen undercurrent of almost homosexual proportions at times, but Eddie sets Richie?s crotch on fire before anything becomes too intellectual. Richard Richard (Rik Mayall) ? the saddest of the pair, his virginity and understandable difficulty in attracting the opposite sex lead to insecurity, but he is also very quick to anger. He is also overly stubborn, the best example of which occurred in the TV show when Eddie wanted to watch ?Miss World? but he insisted on watching cricket, despite obviously desiring the other channel. Edward Hitler (Adrian Edmondson) is more experienced than Richie, but this balding drunkard isn?t exactly the ladies? man either. He lives with Richie at very low rent, which means he often has to apologise his way back in to the flat, before kic
king his flatmate in the b******s. Most people either really liked or really hated Bottom, and personally I love it. The first series is, in my opinion, one of the most classic comedy series of the last few decades, but it has to be said that in the second and third series the standards dropped significantly and mostly bowed in favour of over-the-top slapstick laughs. BOTTOM LIVE: THE STAGE SHOWS Shortly after deciding to end the series, Rik and Adrian toured the country with their highly successful stage show, which was soon released on video. The advertising promised that this was ?Bottom as it was meant to be seen,? which means they were allowed to say the F-word a lot and delve even deeper into issues of sex and solo actions more than the BBC would ever allow. The first show was set in Richie and Eddie?s flat, and involved secret acts with a sex doll, and a huge inheritance. The characterisation was still superb and loyal to the series, and despite getting tedious at times was a very funny show. At least on video anyway. The following year, the duo staged their second show, ?The Big Number Two.? More diverse and interesting than the first, this saw the second half occurring in a jail cell. ?Hooligan?s Island,? Bottom Live 3, saw Richie and Eddie abandoned on an island after causing an offence. The style made this seem very different to the Bottom I was used to, but the characters still acted as they always had. In the years following this third stage show, Rik appeared in a number of terrible films and Adrian enjoyed married life with Jennifer Saunders before the famous quad bike accident left Mayall bed-bound and unable to tell the difference between a biscuit and
a bicycle, at least that?s what I remember my Dad reading out of the newspaper. It seemed that Bottom had been laid to rest. 2001 This year saw the release of Bottom the Movie (or ?Guest House Paradiso? as it was called), which in my opinion starts in a way that is fitting to the series, but becomes increasingly childish and slapstick as it progresses. It also saw their return to the stage with 2001: An Arse Oddity, which I have finally got around to reviewing. Apologies to have kept you hanging this long. This stage show, available on video and DVD, is by far the most removed from the series, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. The first half features the two still living on their desert island, with the usual problems of Richie being onanist, and Eddie returning from gambling with the local (thankfully unseen) chimps. A lengthy routine with the dead parrot Dave ? not a homage to the Monty Python sketch ? takes longer than necessary, before the real character interaction can begin. This first half is nothing spectacular, but is a welcome return to the characters from the series as opposed to the movie, and some fluffed lines only add to the sense of it being an enjoyable experience all round. There is a script to follow, but it seems less concerned with carrying a coherent plot than in the past, and is essentially a way for Rik and Adrian to be funny and rude in front of a load of people again. As this first half ends they have no problem with leaving their character personas and begging for the bar to be opened. PART TWO The second half of the show is what marks this as very different and interesting, as it approaches the bizarre. Richie and Eddie are now in some sort of dark metal room with exit chutes at the sides, and hav
e no idea how they got there. Eddie soon finds that travel through the exits only leads back to an identical room, or is it the same one? While the prospect of no bar in sight has Eddie approaching a breakdown, the characters take an interesting twist and discuss how they aren?t satisfied with their portrayal any longer: Eddie thinks that the ?ginger tw**? who plays him isn?t up to it any more, but he used to be good, while Richie struggles to remember the name of the actor who portrays him, remembering him as ?the t*sser who fell off the quad bike.? This friendly stab at his own grief gets the biggest applause of the whole show, and from then on it only gets more interesting. I was pleasantly surprised to see Bottom getting intellectual, but rest assured that nothing is revealed about the nature of humanity or existence, and there are still plenty of testicle punches, as well as a spontaneous and unexpected musical number to close. THE DVD The picture quality is as good as can be expected, although the live format means that the characters are often too distant or close-up, and the lighting is designed to suit the stage. In terms of extras there are no behind-the-scenes featurettes, simple a collection of photos and the usual boring screensaver feature for use on your PC, if you are that desperate for a screensaver. I would actually recommend the video version if you were looking for a cheap way to own this, as it can be found all over eBay. VERDICT I was impressed by the quality of this show, and the interesting turns it takes show that Rik and Adrian are still happy with their characters, and performing them. This was shown more recently with their ?Weapons Grade Y-Fronts? tour last year, which I was unfortunately unable to attend. Bottom Live is certainly a far st
ep from the TV series, and in many ways is not as enjoyable, but if you are a fan of one, you will doubtless be interested in seeing what the other has to offer. For fans of violent and rude character-based stand-up, the Bottom Live shows seem very good value for money.
Bottom... Some people love it, some people loathe it and most people don't understand it. That doesn't matter though, if you let the comedy take you and you don't try to read anything into it, you will enjoy it as much as me. You often hear Bottom being described as filthy, puerile and infantile but fans of the series and the live shows will say that those words are describing its best features. For those who know nothing of the history of Bottom. Rik Mayall plays Richard Richard and Adrian Edmondson plays Edward Elizabeth Hitler. They are two middle-aged men who are flatmates living in a flat in Hammersmith, getting through life by swearing and fighting a lot and generally getting into all kinds of trouble. Bottom Live 2001: An A*se Oddity is the fourth in a sequence of stage shows that continue the lives of Rich and Eddie on from the TV series. The first show was based on Rich thinking he was wealthy but then finding he was in debt and then trying to commit suicide. The Big Number Two Tour followed Rich and Eddie as they tried to seduce the queen and their subsequent stay in prison. Bottom Live 3: Hooligan's Island picks up on a desert Island. Rich and Eddie are on the run after an incident involving Norma Major's peekaboo bra. The latest show picks up with Rich and Eddie still stuck on the Island. The very basic outline of the show is that Rik and Eddie have got usedf to life on the island and Eddie has made friends with the monkey population. There are quite a lot of fragments through the show, as it is a series of sketches, rather than a continuous story. The second act makes no sense at all. It has no point and no end. That is about as much as I can say about it without giving individual details away. If you want to know more, there is a detailed account at the end. The Bottom live shows are renowned for their foul language and (mock) violence. The main selling point of the stage show is that Rik and Ade
can get away with things that would be censored on TV. As far as plot goes, well... There isn't one. Simple really, The first live show had a semblance of a plot, but the lines are forgotten so often that a strong plot would be impossible to follow by the actors. All you are actually guaranteed with this film is one hour and twenty-six minutes of knob gags, violence and crude innuendo. If you like to keep the brain ticking during a film, then this one is not for you, but if you enjoy kicking back with a beer and switching of your brain for an hour and a half, you can't go wrong with this one. Bottom Live 2001 is still funny, but I feel that the level is slipping as time goes by. A lot of the cock-ups look staged for the cameras, rather than genuine errors. Rik is also getting very "panto". If you go back to the first live show, Rik was very up tight about being professional with the acting. They were trying to be as close to the TV show as they could. As the sequels have appeared though, Rik and Ade have involved the Audience to a greater extent and I feel that I am not watching the two guys from Hammersmith anymore. I feel that I am watching Rik and Ade messing about on a stage. Due to that, I am having trouble deciding how to rate the presentation. If I think about Bottom as just lewd humour, then it is easily worth five stars. If I think more logically about it though, I would have liked to see Rik and Ade adhering more strictly to the characters of Rich and Eddie to provide more of a story line. If I were judging on this criterion alone, I would give two or three stars. I am going to lean a little in the direction of the lewd humour though and give four stars because I bought this DVD to make me laugh. As far as extras go on the DVD, they are almost non-existent. The extras consist of a photo gallery that consists of a few backstage shots of the crew, along with a tour programme and a screen saver for those who can wa
tch their DVD on a PC. I have to say that I am disappointed with the extra features on the disc, as I thought things were on the up after the documentary included on the Guesthouse Paradiso film. I was really hoping that there would be some kind of backstage segment or re-enactments of how botched parts of the play were supposed to look. The film is rated as 18, which is necessary because any sentence that doesn't contain a reference to sex will contain swearing in general, mixed with plenty of violence involving frying pans, sledge hammers and a very worried pig (you'll see). Overall, I found this latest offering to be a great laugh, although not up to the standards of Rik and Ade's earlier efforts. If you are new to Bottom and can live with not understanding a few of the long running jokes until the end, I would suggest watching the live shows in reverse order, starting with this one. That way, the films will get progressively better and you will finish on a high. As most of the people who know my writing well will have guessed, a spoiler to the show follows, I just can't help myself. I?m one of those irritating people who always tells you what's about to happen next. If you don't want to know what the content of the show is, stop reading now. If you couldn't care less what is in the film, then I'm surprised that you have got this far anyway. If you have got to this sentence, then you must be wondering when I'm going to get on with it. I will warn you now that the show contains swearing so I am going to be including borderline references while trying not to go overboard. If you are not old enough to watch the film anyway or are offended by bad language, go and read one of the numerous ops on Harry Potter. Anyway, here goes... ############ Act 1. The show begins with Rik apparently indulging in a little solo exercise in his bed cabin. After rather a lot of rustl
ing and some homosexual innuendo, Rik's alarm goes off and wakes him. Eddie has disappeared so Rik can try some of the more fashionable items from his wardrobe. He emerges wearing a skirt (excuse my poor understanding of ladies fashion), while claiming to be the new David Beckham. Eddie swings across the stage in classic Tarzan fashion and crashes into a rock. He is three days late for supper and tries to sweet talk his way out of trouble with flattery. When it turns out that he has been gambling with his monkey friends again and has a £500 gambling debt that the gorillas are after, Rik gives Eddie some parental guidance with a frying pan. In the fracas, Rik loses his skirt and realises that everyone can see his pink latex underwear. Rik explains to Eddie that he made them out of washing up gloves. They are so tight that he hasn't been able to remove them for three days and the thumb has been lodged where the sun doesn't shine, giving him those very strange dreams. Eddie helps Rik remove the garment with the help of a chainsaw and also gets Rik's gold tooth to pay off the gorillas. Eddie notices that the parrot has escaped from its cage but it turns out that Rik has been hawking with it. We find that "Thunderwing Doomslayer" is an alcoholic parrot and on its return from the duty free, it gets attacked by some seagulls and has a heart attack. Rik tries giving Dave (the parrot) the kiss of life but he gets his tongue stuck. Eddie frees him with the aid of a shovel, then they try to bring Dave back to life with a handy electric heart resuscitator. After failing to bring him round, Rik turns the voltage up and they blow Dave to pieces. Luckily, there is a grave there that Eddie had prepared for Rik after a violently successful accident that was scheduled for next Thursday. Eddie has a hectic religious life due to the fact that he is Christian, Catholic and Morman. But for the latter, he has to get drunk every
half-hour "for the faith". During the funeral, Eddie invents the camera and Rik works out what his "spontaneous" face will be. After the funeral, Eddie goes to his bar for "evening prayers" and ends up falling victim to his "drink fuelled emotions" and beats Rik senseless with a baseball bat. Rik finds out that after all of these 25 years of Eddie beating him to a speck, all he ever had to do was say "I give in" and Eddie would have stopped. Rik thinks he is having a heart attack and collapses on the floor but upon closer investigation, Eddie discovers that Rik has put his underpants instead of his vest on and was choking himself on the fumes. If you are easily offended, don't watch these segments. Rik's underwear is covered in unspeakable stains. Eddie tells Rik that if he stays away, he will make a cup of tea. If Rik stays further away, he will even milk the pig. Eddie puts up a brave fight against "Vannessa Feltz" the pig, but he admits that the stage crew wins when the pig gets stuck on it's rails. The tea break goes very wrong when Eddie brings Rik's attention to a startling discovery. Rik had never noticed that the pig only had one nipple. He begins drinking his tea but brings it back up when Eddie says that the nipple was accompanied by an enormous pair of testicles. After receiving a paged message, Eddie and Rik dash for the bar so they can beat the audience in the interval rush. Act 2. Rik and Eddie fall into the set via two chutes. The problem is that they are no longer on the island. They are in a small dome with no apparent exits. After several rounds of "What the f**k happened there", Rik settles down to work out how they got into this predicament. Eddie says that all he can remember is drinking 17 pints in the interval. He then proceeds to bring all 17 pints back again into Rik's chute. After vomitting, He wonders where th
e bar is and upon realising that there is no way to get to a bar, he panics. He hits Rik to make himself feel better. Rik gives in again so Eddie has to stop because he is a gentleman after all. Rik says that they will have to get out through the holes they came in by, to which Eddie replies "I don?t think my mother would be too pleased". Rik then explains what he means and after some dithering and farewells, Rik helps to push Eddie up his chute. Eddie falls through the other hole though so he is back at square one, but he believes that he has gone into another room. He sees a bottom protruding from another chute and Rik tells him to give it a seeing to. Eddie kicks it and Rik ends up flying round the tube and out of the hole Eddie just came through. Believing that they have both moved to a new location, Rik is very upset to find that it is the same as the last room. He comes to an initial conclusion that he has been abducted by aliens for their breeding program. He dives off up a chute to repopulate the globe. Eddie talks amongst himself while Rik is gone. He seducess himself and then gets a divorce. Rik comes back down the other chute to find Eddie there. He then realises that he must have died and this is an eternal hell. After getting rid of Eddie by telling him that Ainsley was coming after him while putting on a condom, Rik talks to God. After pleading for his life for a while, Eddie comes back down the chute and tells Rik that he has found a bar. He downs two pints in celebration and then breaks the news to Rik that they are still in the theatre and the second half is nearly over. After some reconnaissance, Eddie finds that the audience has stayed in and they panic because they haven't got time to do the second half. After a bit of an ogle at the female members of the audience, Eddie is dying to relieve himself after the 17 pints in the interval and he pees in the chute. This fuses the electric supply. They try to esca
pe while the lights are off but they are too slow. Eddie is caught in the act of stealing the ticket money. Rik decides that they should split the money 50/50 and do a runner. They need to get rid of the audience though. They sing a song about pants in the vague hope that the females would join in and remove their underwear. This fails, so they sing another song that is rather more anti social. On this completely pointless note, the show ends. Rik actually gets a pair of knickers thrown onto the stage, which he proceeds to put on his head. ################## Conclusion: I know I concluded before the spoiler, but thought that I could say a few more words now that you know what happens. Act 1 has a vague plot, as you can tell, but Act 2 is completely plot-less. It is the only way that Rik and Eddie can escape the island though. I fully expect that if there is another tour in the future, it will be back in the familiar surroundings of the flat. There is only so much that Rik and Eddie can do on an island and the location has now been played to death. The first act was played out with rehashes of jokes used in Hooligan's Island and the second act showed that they had run out of ideas. As I said before, I have given four stars. This leans in favour of my love of mindless comedy. I am sure that others will give fewer stars due to the lack of creative talent shown in this particular effort. I have left a few jokes and cock-ups out so there are still one or two surprises left in there for you, so my consience is clear that I haven't completely ruined the film for you ;) Thanks for reading.