The Grand Theatre – 19th October 2009
Reviewed by Silent Matk
I have never been as apprehensive to see someone perform as I was of
Simon Bird tonight.
Firstly, let me say, as a stand up comedian, Simon Bird is fantastic.
Go to YouTube and look for his stand up. He is witty, intelligent and
a fantastic wordsmith with an extraordinary rebellious streak from
someone who looks like they still have to be in bed by 10 o’clock
otherwise his mum would ground him.
Unfortunately though, a lot of comedians who become known as actors
become more known for the characters they play rather than for their
material, and with the popularity of The Inbetweeners (not that that
is a bad thing) spawning catch phrase after catch phrase, my initial
thought was “will the audience be more interested in hearing him say
‘bus*******’ or will they actually sit and listen to his stand up”.
My second apprehension was down to reviews. He has been touring the
show, and ever review I’ve read online has been a negative one.
Whether it was down to my initial worry coming true, or whether it
was down to the content, only they will be able to see. The show
itself ended up not being a stand up comedy show, but instead a trial
run of a game show that may or may not be in development. This might
have been where the negative comments have come from.
I think I was fortunate though, going into this show with such low
expectations. I actually quite enjoyed myself.
The concept of the show was explained by a PowerPoint presentation at
the start. “The Pope is dead”. That’s the important part of the
presentation. He’s not really dead of course, but for the sake of the
game show, there is now no longer a Pope. Instead of the Conclave (in
which the Cardinals choose the new Pope) it is down the audience to
choose the new pope out of the “contestants” (or as they are
technically known, other people from the audience). The game itself
consists of questions, silly games and the new Pope is decided on the
flip of a coin. What can be easier than that?
The show itself ended up addressing my initial concern about the
Inbetweeners audience wanting catch phrases, or just shouting them
out themselves, making light of the fact saying that through study
Simon has learned that as a presenter a major rule is to not use any
phrases from the show, and as an audience, a major rule is to do the
same (an instruction that a couple of audience members chose to ignore).
The premise of the show, whilst being amusing, may have also been
counted as offensive. 2 reviews I read online, both used an
arrangement of the term “Would he do a similar show involving Judaism
or Islam?” which I personally thing deserves an answer.
No, he wouldn’t do a similar show involving Judaism or Islam, the
reason being that neither religion has a leader of the religion,
other than the god itself, which can be seen as the Pope of the
religion. What is looked over in the show is the fact that Catholicism isn’t
mocked. A passage from the bible is read, but not to mock the
religion, more to make light of the small bits of the bible that
don’t actually seem to make sense. Questions are asked about the
faith, including “which Saint is the odd one out” where the
contestant had to pick which Saint wasn’t a real one, which again, to
me, doesn’t really seem to be ridiculing any faith in the slightest.
Saying that, maybe that is just my view. Maybe I looked upon this
with slight naivety and instead of looking at the show as a piece of
entertainment I should have looked for some kind of offensive subtext.
I was very lucky I went into the show, not expecting a 5 star review.
The show definitely wasn’t a 5 star show, but then again, it wasn’t
meant to be. It was an experimental game show, not a stand up gig.
Not knowing what the show entailed will have made a few people
disappointed, but it seemed like most people went away happy.
Unfortunately, the show did last less than an hour. There was no warm
up, no stand up or Q & A after the show, so for people expecting a
full show, that will have been another disappointment.
Was it too short? Yes.
Was it worth £11? Definitely not.
Was it a bit of fun? Yes.
Was a good time had by all? If the laughter throughout the show was
anything to go by, I’d say so