Ego The Trip

Posted: December 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

And so in the space a few weeks Steve Coogan arrived back into the world of ‘proper’ comedy – as opposed to bad Hollywood comedy – twice, in the form of…well…himself, in The Trip, and one Alan Partridge in the new Fosters-sponsored online shorts.

Knowing me, Alan Partridge, knowing you, suspicious and cynical viewer, Aha.

The Trip was shunted onto the unusual timeslot of late on a Monday night. Maybe you had just been bludgeoned over the head by the humourless lump of Pat Kenny and were faced with a repeat of the Late Late Show, whose programme title describes its condition perfectly. Twice.

But the time slot was probably because it was a semi-improvised six-part series with no particular set-pieces other than Rob Brydon and Coogan travelling from restaurant to restaurant, having an ‘impression-off’ of sorts and playing versions of themselves that I imagine are incredibly close to who they are and how they really interact with each other. It was glorious.

Not laugh-a-minute glorious but just quality stuff. Directed with panache by Michael Winterbottom, subtly played by its ‘stars’ and with plenty of nods to the fragile egos of ‘talented people’.

Coogan plays a damaged egomaniac who knows his best work/character has been done and now he must struggle to succeed further as an artiste…or simply as a very famous star. Neither seems to be working out. Brydon plays himself as the loveable everyman who gives his audience what they want, loves doing it, is happy to have a career at all and is the proud father of a young child as well as an enthusiastic husband in a seemingly happy marriage.

Coogan is clearly a very self-aware man, to a fault, and perhaps this programme is the catharsis he needs but he really goes for his own jugular on more than one occasion. In the third episode, in a scene reminiscent of DeNiro in Taxi Driver, Coogan is shirtless, brushing his teeth and desperately trying, and failing, to do Brydon’s acclaimed ‘small man in a box’ voice. It’s a painful scene but it sums up the show very well.

As for the return of Partridge – it’s wonderful. Alan is doing digital radio for North Norfolk and these 10-13 minute weekly pieces are vintage Partridge. Without having to worry about character development, Ianucci and Coogan are just banging out Partridge-isms with style and verve and it’s high quality stuff.

As for the Fosters sponsorship, which has had some people up in arms, who cares? They paid a stack of cash, it’s a great show, more power to it. Fosters still tastes like shite anyway no matter how much I agree with their ‘bring back Partridge’ policy.

Long live Coogan!


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