Opinion: Danger – Over-Analysing Critic At Work

I went to see Ricky Gervais as David Brent fronting his fictional band Foregone Conclusion at the weekend at the Hammersmith Apollo, sorry, Eventim Apollo (lovely venue, terrible name). I’m writing a full review of the show for the Evening Standard so you can read all about it on Monday.

Afterwards, however, I went for a debrief/post-mortem/drink with a friend and she asked me what I'd thought of the gig. I explained that I couldn’t get a sense of disconnect about the concept out of my head. If David Brent was a sales rep these days hurtling up and down the motorway selling toilet lozenges to the nation, as he explained onstage, how was he able to do two nights at the Apollo? Some back story was provided mid-set when he explained that the young band weren’t mates, they were session musicians he was paying. Brent is clearly just as popular with his colleagues now as he was in Slough a decade ago. He joked about how his band never comes for a drink with him because they say they get too tired from performing, yet he always seems to find them having a drink in a different pub.

But little things niggled. How could he afford to pay them? Didn’t he blow his Wernham Hogg redundancy package on his If You Don't Know Me By Now video? Is the commission on toilet lozenges really that good? And if he is a rubbish part-time musician how come he has managed to fill the Hammersmith Apollo with fans singing along to Freelove Freeway? And furthermore, is he supposed to be a good performer? Or that good a lyricist? Or that confident in front of a packed house? It’s all a long way from the Office episode where he was seen doing tawdry club appearances dressed as Austin Powers alongside Bubble from Big Brother. But then that was a decade ago. Maybe he’s taken stage presence lessons since then.

I put these and various other points to my friend, whose response was blunt. “You are over-analysing it a bit. Did you enjoy it?” You’ll have to pick up a Standard to find out the answer. The moral of the story? If you want a quiet drink in a pub never ask a comedy critic what they thought of a comedy gig.

 

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