Richard Sandling (3 stars)

This article is from 2008.

Format war rant full of comedic gems

In the dank bowels of the ghost-ridden Baby Belly 3, where it rains indoors no matter what it’s doing outside (though, let's face it, chances are it’ll be raining there too), two shows from likeably nervy individuals addressed obsessions with varying degrees of success. Richard Sandling is a barnstormer of a comic, rammed full of energy and opinions, mainly about his love of VHS and contempt for new formats (especially the soulless DVD) while feeling the need to apologise for his Essex background: he owns a shop in Southend-on-Seacalled Ace Video should you ever find yourself there. Terry Saunders is a wiry,edgy chap whose appearance on Sky Poker has given him the kind of extra thrust of confidence that only a brief appearance in the graveyard slot on a minority channel can bring.

Both shows tackles their themes with gusto before ultimately veering off down comedic cul de sacs. Inthis trilogy-ender, film buff Sandling (of whom Phill Jupitus once said,'darts' loss is comedy's gain') directs his ire less towards the DVD world and more on those who claim punk to have been a epoch-making movement (citing quite convincingly that video was more of a landmark cultural creation) while eventually simply chatting about his worst gigs ever. Saunders brings us a tiny Power Point-led tale about made-up animated characters one of whom has the ability to see a snapshot of people's futures while wishing his own life away, withElliott Smith's tragic death utilised as a musical and spiritual backdrop.

Sandling's entertaining diversions perhaps prove that his trilogy didn't quite have the legs while Saunders' tale runs out of steam all too quickly, endlessly repeating his largely unfunny themes and motifs. These are both small shows which attempt to poke away at big themes but are undone by a lack of focus. It’s difficult to imagine either of them breaking out from their claustrophobic settings should they return next year.

Richard Sandling: VHS 3 - Video Nasty, Baby Belly, 0844 545 8252, until 24 Aug, 8.35pm, £10.50 (£9.50)

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