Monday, 7 December 2009

Funny People (Part Two).

Dear reader,

How are you? I hope you are well. I am fine. Considering the entry on Hobart leg of the tour fell by the wayside (much like the Pixies entry back in 2007, I decided to keep the memories mine), I've been tossing up what to write about lately. The last month has seen me appear unexpectedly in a show, A Christmas Carol. I came into the production a month into rehearsal so with only two weeks' prep the whole process from 'reading' to closing night left me sleep-deprived, stressed, disillusioned but ultimately, in a way, rewarded.

That's all that needs to be said about it really. In lieu of a blow-by-blow I've decided to continue the series of 'funny people' started back in July. Some you'll know, some you won't, but all are well worth exploring. Some will get a blurb, but others...well, I'll just let the bits speak for themselves. This first fella's recent unbiquity gives me hope for the species. He'll crop up more than once in this entry, with good reason...

David Mitchell

An average-looking and unassuming chap, David Mitchell has great comedic pedigree, coming as he does from Footlights and years of childhood TV study. Since 2003, when Peep Show premiered, he's been everywhere on British airwaves, from TV panel shows such as Would I Lie To You and the wonderful Stephen Fry-helmed QI to his own sketch show with partner Robert Webb, That Mitchell & Webb Look to radio, as host of BBC Radio 4's 'The Unbelievable Truth'.

Mitchell's comedy is often a massive creamy cake filled with razors. His soft, boyish face and apparent meekness are but a blind for one of the sharpest minds and tongues in comedy for many a long year. He may come across as a bit of a tightly wound loser, but when he cuts loose, whether it's scripted or on the fly, David Mitchell is scalpel sharp, yet one senses no real bitterness in him. On panel shows he's perfectly capable of appearing as if he's going to explode, but within seconds of an expertly-timed, ad hoc rant, he's laughing and smiling, his cherubic face glowing with seeming innocence. This has, on occasion, shown up alleged 'masters' like Paul Merton, who, while being a very funny man at times (those times being the 1980s and 90s) comes across as completely joyless. It's as if his brain is unable to produce dopamine. Mitchell has no such shortcoming. If he so chooses, David will be one of the greats.

Richard Pryor

We move from a potential great to an acknowledged legend. Richard Pryor is considered by many to be the most brilliant stand up comedian ever. He's definitely the most influential. I can't recall the last time I was reading about a comic's influences and the man was not mentioned. My first contact with Richard came via the movie Silver Streak when I was about seven. My brother Liam took us to the Dawn Theatre at Chermside. Here he is in his element though, on stage and in total control.

Joan Rivers

What really needs to be said? She's just wonderful.

Patrick Warburton

An extremely funny man, with the uncanny ability to make even the most innocent and straightforward line hilarious (for those of you who've never done comedy or read a script aloud, it much harder than it sounds). His sleepy, squinty take on a script is always worth watching, even in otherwise pretty boring sitcoms one with David Spade (although Megyn Price is pretty good too). Here he is in his most famous role, as David Puddy in Seinfeld.

Maria Bamford

Maria Bamford has been floating around for years and like many comics before her, seems always to be nipping at the edges of great success without...well, success. Unlike many comics before her, she deserves it. There are those who think they are funny...and telegraph it, thereby automatically making them less funny (like Orny Adams) and then there are the self-deprecating types, like Bamford, whose ability to make a joke out of her own sadness is at a stroke joy-making and rare.

Ricky Gervais

No secret that I'm a fan of Gervais. The guy is so golden he didn't get into the business until his late 30s and it was only after success rained on him that he ventured into stand-up, with immediate success. He's not only golden, he's Mr. Backwards.

Louis C.K.

The abovementioned Gervais has been a great supporter of Louis C.K., with good reason. This bit should have you looking for more:

Dara O'Briain

Dara O'Briain was born in Wicklow, not very far away from where my family comes from in Kildare. Mind you, when you live in Australia nothing in Ireland seems 'very far away'. Fast-talking, faster-thinking, big, tall and pissfunny. My favourite moment here is 1:02-1:09.

Frankie Boyle

If there is one comedian going around today who erases the lines, it's Frankie Boyle.

David Mitchell (Again)