Steve Coogan at Canberra Theatre; I have to say straight up that I am a big fan of Coogan, and have all the Alan Partridge DVD’s and CD’s of the radio shows, including his “On the Hour” and “The day today” stuff, and rate “24 Hour Party People” as one of the best music films ever made.
So last night then. I was a bit apprehensive as none of my family knew any of Coogan’s other characters than Alan P.
The show kicked off promptly(ish) at 8.00 pm with the theatre half to two thirds full. I was reasonably impressed by this, as I didn’t think Coogan had that much exposure here, certainly my lot had never heard of him before I came over.
First up was Pauline Calf the Mancunian foul mouthed, over sexed, only female character. She was funny in a cringe making way and had my daughter alternatively in tears of laughter and shocked revulsion, with her tales of her sex life. Pauline also gave a reading from her new book; “She Shat Herself.”
Next up Paul Calf beer swigging, student hating, and misanthropic. Didn’t do much for any of us, had a few moments, but had no great hook to hang his humour on. (When I’ve seen Coogan in the past, Calf has been far more violent and less understanding of the world about him, to far better effect.)
There was then a filmed section featuring “Duncan Thickett, the worlds worse comedian”. This didn’t work well at all, as the film and sound were way out of synch.
Tony Ferrino the “Polish” power ballad crooner, ended up the first half, and for me was the highlight of the night. The songs were cringe-makingly bad, though sung well. The lyrical humour was highlighted by contradictory backdrops which had me holding my sides with laughter. I felt so sorry for the poor girl dragged up on stage for a romantic ballad “ordinary Girl,” but I still wet myself with laughter at the song.
The second half was all Partridge. It was great to see the old monster back on stage. The “theme” was Partridge trying to sell himself as a “motivational speaker,” on tour. (Sponsored by “Whiskas”). This worked well, and good use of props gave added bite. The Partridge routine relies a bit on you knowing his shtick, and there were some dead spots during this, when only me and a couple of others picked up the references. Also it was obvious that he had dropped Brit references and tried to shoehorn in some Aussie icons at times, to mixed success.
His presentation of a “Live Chat Show” on Radio Norwich, by satellite link up, was hamstrung by the obvious use of pre-recorded “callers,” and although true Partridge, never quite hit the spot. The ending was abrupt and, apart from a curtain call, there was no encore.
We left the theatre at 9.50 pm, just under two hours with a very short intermission.
Verdict; Ok. Good. Not great.
Not bad for the money, $70 a ticket. Some parts were uproariously funny, some were as flat as a witches tit.
Spoiled for me by being under-rehearsed, and his obvious need to have, and constant reference to, prompt cards onstage for each of the acts (apart from Ferrino). Partridge was done entirely from cue cards. Though it was great to see the characters again, the act was a bit stale for me as I I’d seen them all before, and there was nothing new. The Ferrino skit was word for word what I saw in Plymouth in 2001, though still funny.
6/10 must try harder.
Let’s hope Dylan Moran is better next weekend.