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Ed Hamell – RANT & ROLL (DVD, Righteous Babe Records)

Posted: August 21st, 2008, by Pascal Ansell

“Hamell is Bill Hicks, Hunter S. Thompson and Joe Strummer all rolled into one sweaty, snarling, pugnacious pit bull of a man.” Well, the press release is half right. You could just as easily say this rasping American comedian is one very angry bastard – you would be if you were brought up in a horrendously conservative American family in horrendously conservative America in the 70s.

There is one gem of a story involving a mother’s dead body and her son’s extremely inappropriate humour. The whole DVD is worth just this story, and I won’t ruin it for you. Hamell says his excuse for divulging in his friends’ most private of stories is, with an irresistible shrug: “well, if you’re my friend and you tell me these stories…”There’s also a horrifying satirical song about ‘The Trough’, an ultra-modern restaurant of Hamell’s invention which advertises “our friendly immigrant staff will even chew the food for you… you know, doing those jobs us Americans don’t wanna do.” Despite the unattractive aspects of ‘Rant and Roll’ there are some pretty clever cracks (e.g. Hamell visits “a crack bar from ‘Cheers’”, whatever a crack bar is) and without being patronising his memory for lines is astonishing.

Footage from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival seldom tickles the un-PC ribs; a great deal of his material can be lazily vulgar and extremely irreverent. This is just a personal thing, but I’m not massively comfortable when drugs are glamorized. Luckily for Hamell he doesn’t exactly do this, yet he looks on his drug-fuelled days (we’re talking crack, here, ho bloody ho) with undisguised nostalgia. A lesser prude would probably love the spaced-out tales more than I do – going to church on acid and being horrified by ‘eating the body of Christ’ is a good one, admittedly.

The incessant verbal attacks, the angry ramblings get a bit too much towards even the half hour mark, but if you think you can stomach some seriously crude material, then give ‘Rant and Roll’ and spin and I think you’d enjoy his “wicked sense of humour” more than I did.


Pascal Ansell

Pascal Ansell

Pascal is a fearsome, hungry giant trapped in the body of a hyperactive boy. On a mission to waste no more than 14 seconds per day, he bounds from activity to activity like a deer being chased by a cheetah. Follow him now, as in ten year's time he'll be a leading voice in something or other. He's also writing down every word you say in a small book so watch out!


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