Monday, 5 December 2011

The League of Funnymen: Part Three (Chris Addison Live)

Our ranking of ribaldry rumbles on.


£11.88 (Amazon)

“Star of BAFTA Winning Comedy THE THICK OF IT” screams the cover. Not quite sure why it didn’t mention the Oscar-nommed spinoff In The Loop as well, in which Addison plays a more central role, but there you go. Mind you, if we’d been in charge of designing that cover we’d have gone with “Star of That Sunday Morning Music Programme On UK Play When It Started In 1998, You Know, That One With Lauren Laverne On It As Well, At Least We Think It Was Chris Addison. Oh, And He Did Dotcomedy As Well, But No-One Ever Mentions That Nowadays”. All in the Papyrus font. Mainly because we just hate humanity.

ANYWAY. After several days of diminishing returns on our list (five stand-up DVDs rated so far, each has been ranked lower than the last. More through accident than design, though we do admit we were keener to see the Tim Vine and Milton Jones DVDs than Jimmy Carr’s. From hereon in, we’re looking at DVDs we have no real preconceptions, so these could be placed anywhere in the list. ANYWHERE.

So, Chris Addison, then. Best known for The Thick Of It, in which he didn’t have a hand writing. When he did share penmanship duties on a sitcom, it was the roundly derided Labrats (which we’d personally put down as a gallant effort that just needed a couple more drafts at scripting stage, but we seem to be in the minority there). He has been a bit disappointing when cropping up on Have I Got News For You, but one of the best guests on the current series of QI. (Shush, that’s how comedians are judged nowadays.) He made Channel 4’s list of 100 Greatest Stand-Up, but trying to put on a show that can be put on DVD and sold in supermarkets can do terrible things to a stand-up’s act. WILL IT BE GOOD OR WHAT, THEN?

Topics include the boringness of British roads, the Pope not being able to stand up in the Popemobile any more because of The Taylor Report, the BNP, golf clubs. the cultural identity of the modern Briton, ITV’s current affairs output, and what it’s like being married (as is the law for all stand-up comedians who’ve been performing for more than ten years). All delivered by a 40 year old man seemingly trapped in the body of a sweaty, giggly 27-year-old from the year 1999. And happily, well, it’s enjoyable and many of the things that he says while talking are funny. (“Dear BrokenTV, thank you for applying for the position of chief comedy critic of Newsnight Review. Sadly, that vacancy is no longer available, and you work sadly didn’t quite reach the critical standard required for the position, and seriously, “it’s enjoyable”? God, you’re rubbish. Yours, J Hadlow, Controller, BBC Two.”)


In amongst all the cavorting, picking on nicely unthreatening subjects, material about having to cope with being a slightly ineffectual excuse for a male by any traditional standards (“I’m so non-sexist, I even married a woman. And in many regards, so did she”), there are a few moments of slightly annoying punching down (“imagine if you did crash on an Easyjet flight, eh? On a snowy mountain… would you want to eat those people?” being an especially grating line), but he pretty much makes up for those moments with the remainder of his act revolving around gentle middle-class self-loathing (a huge chunk of this act is even delivered in a self-scarhingly twee Guardian-reader whine).

Harder to take are the routines based on topics pretty much every British stand-up of the last decade has done endless times before (ooh, we’re no good when there’s a bit of snow, are we? Aah, don’t we buy rubbish when drunkenly in charge of the internet? The Daily Mail – bit right wing, innit?), but we just assume those are all based on rants he thought up on the spot while on Mock The Week (#SARCASM. Oh, wait, we’re not on Twitter now). Either way, Addison’s breathless energy, charm, use of the ‘hard a’ when saying the word ‘bastard’ (always wins us over, that), is more likely to mean you’ve got a smile on your face for much of it.

SAMPLE GAG [When talking about universities with vague names like “University of Central England” being substandard compared to other universities]: “U.C.E… so called because those are the grades it takes to get in!”

So, where does this fall on our Top Gear-style table? (If any Chris Addison fans are reading this, Top Gear is that programme about cars. You’re probably watching a box set of The Wire when it’s on.)


Man, we’re going to get annoyed with having to renumber all the entries after we’ve done about twelve of these, aren’t we?



3 .:

Martin said...

Does he mention the adverts?

Ben said...

You call yourself a fan of television, but you can't remember the name of The Alphabet Show?

Hang your head in shame, M X, hang it in shame.

Mark Jones said...

@Martin - nope, no mention of *those* adverts. Not even a "you might remember me from every single ad break on daytime television since May" when he took to the stage.

@Ben - In defence, it was broadcast on Sunday mornings. Sunday mornings! Expecting me to recall anything taking place before noon on a Sunday is like expecting a Betamax tape to work on a VHS player.

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