TV Review: Stand Up And Deliver, C4

TV Review: Stand Up And Deliver, Part Two, C4

If I'm completely honest I wasn't expecting much from the two-parter Stand Up And Deliver, in which comics trained celebrities to be comics. What we got was a fabulous first part in which unlikely friendships were formed, people went on a 'journey' and, well, Jason Manford proved that he has the patience of a saint.

Five comedians were paired with five non-comedians for the two-week course. Some clearly had easier jobs than others. Zoe Lyons worked hard with Coronation Street actor Katie McGlynn, who had no problem being onstage but was not used to saying her own lines or generating her own material. David Baddiel teamed up with Richard Coles which proved slightly harder than one might have expected. Coles is clearly a performer with a talent for language but it took all of Baddiel's experience to get him to push a little harder onstage and not just deliver a witty sermon. Judi Love had her work cut out getting Love Island's Curtis Pritchard to stop laughing at his own smutty jokes.

But there were two stand-out stand-up pairings. Nick Helm felt he had drawn the short straw with Tory Baroness Sayeeda Warsi. For starters they were poles apart politically. She obviously had the public speaking experience but Helm wanted her to let rip and maybe even be a little more like he is onstage. She said she drew the line at performing in her underpants. After visiting her hometown and getting a sense of where Warsi was coming from, Helm started to warm to her. And when she got back onstage, after a bit of pushing and screaming from him, she delivered during their rehearsal. Let's see how she does at the real gig next week. 

Last but absolutely by no means least, Jason Manford had to turn Shaun Ryder into a stand-up. Like many I thought this might be easy. He is used to being onstage, he's funny in interviews and, looking back on Happy Mondays lyrics, he clearly has an imagination and a way with words. But their collaboration put the crash in crash course and spoke volumes about the creative process and the challenges of stand-up. The very first moment Ryder walked onstage his mind just went blank and the confidence drained out of him. Every performer's nightmare.

But the real nightmare was offstage, when Jason tried to coach Ryder into saying what was clearly somewhere inside him. In one unforgettable scene an exasperated Manford tried to get Ryder to see that he actually had to tell gags. Pretty basic. Somehow Ryder just didn't get it, instead taking Manford literally at one point and explaining that he knew hitmen and also not seeming to realise that Manford was trying to tell him a joke. It was all Manford could do to suck on his bottle of water and not scream or walk out.

It emerged that Ryder suffers from ADHD, which may explain the difficulties concentrating. I did briefly wonder if maybe the drugs he had taken in his past had taken their toll on him. He explained that he was a late developer, not learning the alphabet until he was 28. Insert your own joke about him learning what an E was.

Above all though Ryder came across as a nice, if sweary bloke, particularly when they visited the Salford streets where he grew up and he told a bizarre story about giant tomatoes growing around the sewage outlet. The challenge now is for Manford, who certainly had his melons twisted, to get Ryder to channel some of that vivid storytelling onstage. We will find out how they all got on in next week's programme when they do their sets for real. I don't know if the best celeb comic gets a prize, but Jason Manford deserves an award for patience above and beyond the call of duty.

The final part of Stand Up And Deliver is on C4 at 9pm on Thursday, March 4 and on All4 now, where you can also watch the first, brilliant episode.

Picture: C4



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