Angry, interesting, but …
Be prepared for a show like no other. As the title of the show suggests, Dave Longley is an angry man. I don’t think I quite realised at the start just how angry he was. Whether it was confected or real (it certainly felt real), his fury ended up defining the show and unfortunately drilling it into the ground.
It started off as a really interesting premise – Longley performs routines from his club set, then deconstructs them for the audience. If you just want an hour of straight stand-up you’ll be disappointed and possibly quite confused, too, but for anyone vaguely interested in stand-up comedy as a form or art and entertainment, there’s something in it.
Longley exposes the subtle little examples of sexism and racism contained within the routines, and explains how they came into being. In oscillating between club set (denoted by sparkly jacket) and analysis (no sparkly jacket), it creates some interesting tension in the room – do you laugh at his “official” set and become the sort of Jongleurs moron he so despises, or not? It’s hard not to when the joke is good and unhateful, like his high-speed gag on how we use swear words – a routine that’s become something of an albatross for him.
It’s hard to gauge how many other shows will go the way of the one I saw, but as Longley appeared to let his anger get the better of him, we the audience went from being the good guys, not laughing at his nasty routines, to the bad guys, deserving of his contempt. Maybe I missed something, some sort of high irony. Maybe if you’re a comedy purist you’ll find this an artistic triumph. But what was unmistakable was that some people genuinely looked intimidated (as well you might be when you’re in a small room with a big guy who’s getting increasingly aggressive). If it really was fake anger, then it was misjudged in how it was performed. By the end it felt less like the Stand and more like Sandhurst.
Longley has genuine comedy chops, and his show gets points for originality. But surely the best riposte to the rise of the generic TV comic would have been to make this the funniest show possible, and show the execs what they’re missing. The concept is a solid platform from which to do that. Instead he created something that was hard to watch, even if it was sweet catharsis for him.
Review by Paul Fleckney