Smily, smlly, smile
Acclaimed stand-up comic and sex symbol Sean Hughes turns his talents to the sitcom format in his new Channel 4 series. Philip Parr gets the lowdown on Sean '3' Show.
Sean Hughes. in addition to being the cutest comic at the Edinburgh Fringe (ask any woman who has seen him). is also a great pal of The List. After all. we raved about his I990 show and he subsequently went on to win the Perrier Award. So Sean. remember us'.’ '()h yes.’ he says. the Dublin accent still intact in spite of his Muswell Hill base. ‘and don't think that I've forgotten about those bloody stupid reviews that The List gave me last year. bastards.‘
So much for the opening conversational gambit. Sean's a professional though and doesn't let a slight misunderstanding about his comic talent nine months ago get in the way of publicising his new sitcom for Channel 4. But sitcom? .lust the word conjures up images of cosy (‘arla Lane- penned crap. In spite of our view of his shows last year. surely the darling of 1990 is above this sort of thing.
‘Well it's not like a regular siteom.‘ he explains.
‘I do a monologue to the audience and then we go ' into a scene where the phone will ring. I‘ll be talking away and the audience will say “Who‘s
lnevltably the Spain 1992 celebrations are trailing a lot oi boring gull in their wake - endless books and travel guides, merchandise, T-shirts and colouriul TV shows. But BBC2’s series about Spain's relationship with the New World looks promising. Not only is The Buried Mirror produced and directed by Michael Gill, who worked with Kenneth Clarke on the epic Civilisation, but it is written and presented by Carlos Fuentes, one ol the tew prominent Latin American ‘thlnkers’ whose thoughts tickle the tancles oi British and American audiences.
An upmarket, dlgnilied guru on all
l l l i
things Mexican, Fuentes has written a _ number ol Very weighty and irankly ? tedious novels. His essays are much better and, although he probably has . not an ounce oi indigenous blood, his consciousness ol Mexico’s twin
legacy, Aztec and Spanish, inspires his best writing. An err-diplomat, Fuentes is essentially conservative, and the series is being billed as live ‘reasons to
i" '2 :I' ._
..~ Dublin‘s answer to Kelly Monteith? Surely not.
that?" and l go "It's Sam Beckett. the famous dead writer." So the script is bizarre but anyone who has seen me on stage will know that my
l ‘I think that this is just a tiny little TV show.
I don’t want to build it up ’cos you’ll justsay “That’s crap” once you’ve seen it.’
writing is actually very real. So I try to kid people. make them relaxed and make them think that what they're watching is absurd. and then I’ll go BANG and hit them with something true to life.‘
And such true-to-life incidents include the appearance of the Bay City Rollers (‘I always
’ about the events ot1492. The last programme locuses on
, Hispanic immigration into the USA. ‘They are looking lor the Gringo gold, but also bringing the Latino gold' says 2 Fuentes. Hispanics, he says, contribute to American society their sense oi gaiety, their creativity in dance and music and the importance l they attribute to the lamily. It remains '
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wanted them to play in my bedroom when l was twelve'). and Tracey MacLeod (‘She talks to me about being dead famous and as soon as that interview is over she wants to interview me again fora “Where are they now?" feature). Then there‘s the appearance ofone man who has done more than any other (except maybe for Terry Scott) to bring sitcoms down to their current level — Windsor Davies.
‘l le's in the first show when I find myself in a sitcom which seems to be this awful jelly-plot scenario. and Windsor is part ofthat. He was brilliant. He came into rehearsals and said “How do you want me todo this?" so we said “Well . . . like Windsor Davies.” and he just took the piss out of himself for the whole show. That was great because l like to take the piss out ofthis whole celebrity thing. Personally. I think that this isjust a tiny little TV show. ldon't want to build it up 'cos you’ll just say “That's crap" once you've seen it. I‘m happy with it but you have to accept the fact that you‘re open to a helluva lot ofcriticisrn. I don‘t really mind if people love it or think it's shit because I've given it my best shot . . . Rocky. I'm happy.‘
In spite of(‘hannel 4 claims that Sean‘s Show is ‘highly original‘. it does call to mind the Canadian comic. Kelly Monteith's(remember him?) series from about a decade ago — the same talking to the audience from a re-creation ofthe comedian's own llat. and the same easy transition into sketches. ‘Well. that sounds pretty similar. yes. but we don't call them SKE'l‘CHES.‘ says Hughes. who obviously likes speaking in capitals. ‘I do telling monologues. Someone recently said that what I do is like a mixture of Woody Allen. Spalding Gray and Steven Patrick Marcey. I can go along with that. Maybe in ten years‘ time people will say of new comedians. "l ie's a mix of Woody Allen. Sean llughesand. . . Kelly Montieth." ‘(Philip Parr)
Sean '5 Show begins on ( ‘lzamre/ 4 on Wednesday I 5 April.
to be seen whether Fuentes will make any mention oi their poverty, drug addiction and homelessness.
The other programmes prolile the races that make up Latin America, discuss conquest and loilow in the steps oi the liberator Simon de Bolivar. . Programme three, The Age oi Gold,
gauges Spain's reaction to the enormous wealth and new discoveries (chocolate and potatoes) garnered by conquest.
Fuentes’ positive assessment ol the past 500 years cannot tell to be interesting. But it would be illuminating to have it balanced by a ‘thlnker’ oi opposite political beiieis, say the Colombian writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author at One Hundred Years 0t Solitude. He might see iewer causes ior celebration.
(Miranda France) . The Buried Mirror starts Wed 22 Apr, BBC 2, 8pm.
The List 10- 23 April 1992 57