When Hell Freezes Over is a film of Andy Kirkpatrick's live lecture from 2008 in which he details some of his climbing adventures. It includes some photos and video clips from Patagonia, as well as his stand-up act on stage.
I've never been to see Andy speak, and haven't read his book. I have had some email correspondence with him through work, but I don't know the man, and I was intrigued to see what this DVD was all about and also to see if I got on with his well known sense of humour.
Would a DVD of a climbing lecture actually work? I'd never heard of one before (is there one?). And would I enjoy listening to Andy speak, or would his show be aimed too much at the 'non-climber'?
First off, it is bloody funny. Fair play to Andy, his manic, constantly talking style suits the on-stage situation. His animated stories really draw in the viewer, I'm not sure I could spend five days in a snow hole with him, but a 98 minute DVD was perfect.
Secondly, his show is very professional. For all his rude jokes, ad-libbed stories and going off on tangents, Kirkpatrick has a clear, if subtle message and a talent for engaging with an audience, he plays the role of cheeky have-a-go-hero and he plays it well.
On the face of it his show is a mish-mash of jokes, climbing tales, piss-taking and landscape photos, but when you look more closely, the jokes are well thought through, the stories woven together in a coherent manner and the humour is peppered, just occasionally, with some poignant self-reflection that is all the more powerful for being brief, real and seemingly without conclusion. Why do we climb? We don't really know, and neither does Kirkpatrick.
The show works equally well for hardened rock-cats, ice-encrusted alpine heroes and the non climbing adventurous Joe-public. Kirkpatrick makes a point of not talking about climbing, "climbing is like masturbation" he says, "it feels good when you're doing it, but no one wants to hear about it".
His references to Bear Grylls and Ray Mears, two other well-known adventurers seemed a little over done and perhaps said more to a non climbing audience than to me, but the other stories were well pitched, funny and often informative. His gruesome account of Andy Parkin's injuries made light of a terrible situation, but I never for a moment felt that Kirkpatrick came close to the line of acceptable humour.
The DVD itself worked surprisingly well. Never one to drag myself away from a screen for too long, having the option of watching Andy's show in the comfort of my home, splitting the show in two parts if I want to was something that I enjoyed. Clearly a live act is something very special and always a good night-out, but for those who can't make a show, the DVD is a good option.
Film-wise: The editing and camera work seemed sharp and to my untrained eye the whole package was put together in a slick, professional manner. The DVD flicks direct to images and film-clips as Andy shows them on stage, making for interesting viewing and a neat presentation.
All in all a thumbs up from me. Andy Kirkpatrick live in your living room, at least you can be sure he won't pee in your cup!
You can watch a trailer for the film here:
Produced by Dave Brown and Lynwen Griffiths (Bamboo Chicken Productions) and Paul Diffley (Hot Aches).