Still got it …
Sarah Millican, John Bishop, Jack Whitehall … and all those other comics waiting in line to take the title of Britain’s best-loved comic, they must be thinking Michael McIntyre will turn in a sub-par show sooner or later. Surely he’s due a turkey by now? But the fucker just won’t do it. Unfortunately for them, Happy and Glorious underlines that McIntyre’s comic talents remain utterly undiminished. If anything, I thought it was slightly better than his previous show, Showtime.
It is, of course, more of the same tales from his everyday life, and observations of those around us. Foibles, picked out, lightly mocked and made absurd by his own portrayal of them. I’d argue that McIntyre is as much a physical comedian as he is an observational one. His ability to portray a humdrum act in a slightly ridiculous way is what turns a very good routine into a great one, and there are a few sublime examples of this, like his dopey-faced walk up and down between the ropes at passport control, and simply putting a clock back on a wall after turning it back an hour. Likewise, his bit on how iPads and Calpol are a parent’s best friend is made brilliant by how he brings it all to life, and his obvious glee at playing the part of a callous parent.
There’s one section where he almost commits entirely to being a physical comedian, with what amounts to a “silly walks” routine. I don’t think I’ve seen him go quite so far with it before; it feels more like something from a Lee Evans show. It works though, extremely well, the basis of it being that McIntyre has a) freakishly massive calves and b) has injured them, due to his strange walking style, and is having corrective treatment. It’s oddly personal, and sticks in the brain as a result.
There are some very unoriginal subject areas explored, perhaps unsurprisingly, like the loos at motorway services, and the characteristics of the Australian and the South African. But I’m a results man, and McIntyre is at least very funny on these things, partly by turning them into little stories, and again because his delivery can lift the most hack subject out of the mire and make it good. His bit of the intermittent hot and cold of the current October, for example, is a brilliant little thing.
It’s more difficult, however, to locate the things that people unconsciously observe, and make them conscious. And McIntyre has plenty of this – I particularly enjoyed his routine on the difference between going out to dinner with friends, and doing it as a family with small children; and likewise the British tourist making a palaver about getting into a swimming pool.
Some things didn’t work for me – there were a few slightly unrealistic stories that you feel are confected for the sake of it, like he and his wife both getting a cricked neck prior to the school run. A few of the call-backs (to a routine about being asked your name in Starbucks) were uncharacteristically inelegant. And even though the final story about him living in fear now he’s moved to the Wiltshire countryside is a classic build-it-higher McIntyre routine, it’s not quite the finale that the show deserves (it could’ve benefited from being longer, I feel), and the night comes to a weirdly abrupt ending. And the encore was a bit lacklustre.
But ultimately McIntyre has proved once again that he does what a lot of comics do, just much, much better. Sadly for those who can’t stand him – and there a plenty of them – he’s going nowhere in a hurry.
Review written by Paul Fleckney