Monday 5 December 2016
Wolfgang's Vault

The Secret Policeman’s Ball – USA
Artists: Various
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Review Date: February 23, 2014

The Secret Policeman's Ball benefit series started 38 years ago in England - initially spearheaded by Monty Python's John Cleese – to raise funds for, and awareness of, the human rights work of the Noble Peace Prize-winning organization Amnesty International.  The shows developed a formidable reputation for presenting the cream of Britain's comedic performers and rock musicians.

Widely distributed via films, TV specials, videos and albums the Ball has helped Amnesty spread its message worldwide.  The iconic Secret Policeman's Ball title that became the collective name for the series, was used for the first time in 1979. Cleese credits series co-creator Martin Lewis (co-producer of the shows, movies and albums between 1976-1984) with coining the title.

The great folks over at Eagle Rock Entertainment USA have released on Blu-ray and DVD the Amnesty International comedy extravaganza The Secret Policeman's Ball - USA. Filmed in New York in 2012, it was created by a team that includes Executive Producers: Lily Sobhani, Kit Hawkins, Al Maccuish, Beth Earl, Aaron Grosky; Supervising Producer: DJ Javerbaum; Creative Producer: James Serafinowicz; Producer Patrick Wall; Director Ryan Polito.  Executive Producers For Amnesty International: Andy Hackman, Sarah Ben-Tovim, Kerry Moscogiuri; Executive Producers for Eagle Rock: Terry Shand & Geoff Kempin; Producer Emeritus: Martin Lewis.

The 137-minute show features the cream of contemporary US and UK comedy stars - performing brand-new, specially-created material tailored to the theme of freedom of expression - shot in high-definition at New York's Radio City Music Hall.  Until this latest show, every edition of the "Ball" since its 1976 birth had taken place in London.  This show at Radio City was the first show to be held outside Britain and it became a summit meeting-cum-gala of the comedy giants of the two nations.

Among the fifty comedic talents seen in the show are major stars such as Jon Stewart, Ben Stiller, Eddie Izzard, Russell Brand, Sarah Silverman John Oliver and no less than ten comics who have made their names as performers and writers on "Saturday Night Live" including Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis, Bobby Moynihan, Kristen Wiig and Seth Meyers.

In the grand tradition of the long-running Amnesty benefit series, there are also musical performances by Coldplay and Mumford & Sons - and an impressive array of cameo appearances including members of Monty Python and several major movie stars.

The featured performers are:

• Jon Stewart and John Oliver both of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show".  (Oliver starts his own new HBO weekly talk show this April)

• Comedic acting giants Ben Stiller and Paul Rudd

• British stand-up stars Eddie Izzard and Russell Brand

• Ten current and past members of the "Saturday Night Live" family:  Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis, Seth Meyers, Bobby Moynihan, Kristen Wiig, Rachel Dratch, Jay Pharoah, Taran Killam and Hannibal Buress

• "Mr. Show" creators/writers/stars David Cross & Bob Odenkirk

• Popular US talents Sarah Silverman, Rashida Jones, Rex Lee and Reggie Watts

• Top UK stand-ups making their US debut:  Noel Fielding, Jimmy Carr, Micky Flanagan, Jack Whitehall

• Highly-rated UK comedic actors: David Walliams, Matt Berry, Chris O’Dowd, Catherine Tate, Peter Serafinowicz

• Cameo appearances by actors and personalities:  Liam Neeson, Tim Roth, Richard Branson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Burmese comedian and human rights activist Zarganar

• The disc includes on-camera live-snarking of the show by two sets of notable curmudgeons Statler & Waldorf from the Muppets and Beavis & Butthead

• Live music by Coldplay and Mumford & Sons

• Drawing on the show's Pythonic roots, members of Monty Python (Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Jones) make appearances to explain why they cannot appear!

• A bonus sequence not seen at Radio City is a brand-new Pythonic skit specially created for the Blu-ray/DVD edition - "The Python Legacy!" (written by Michael Palin & Martin Lewis) - that stars Robert De Niro, Whoopi Goldberg, Kyra Sedgwick and Annette O'Toole.

Bonus material on the disc includes backstage interviews with many of the stars.

Featured Photo

freddymercurymontreux

Our Featured Photo by Boomerocity friend and famed rock photographer, Rob Shanahan (robshanahan.com), is of the statue of Freddie Mercury in Montreux, Switzerland!