Jasper Carrott has teamed up with f Phil Cool to produce a non-stop gag express. Mark Fisher talks to the l Brummie funny-man about staying
When you‘ve been in the public eye for a steady" fifteen years. with a loyal audience built up through live and television work. you’d think the easiest thing would be to take to the road with a crowd-pleasing greatest hits package. Not so Jasper Carrott. The Brummie folk-comedian is , not one to rest on his laurels. nor is he one to spoon , JasperCanon: aerial impression
out the same old familiar formulas. Like Ken
Dodd before him. Carrott is a student ofcomedy. ever alert to the latest developments at home and. particularly. in America where he believes the comedy scene is always a healthy ten years ahead. His openness to change has led to the current collaboration with rubber-faced mimic Phil Cool and a show in which the two comics perform . alternating twenty-minute slots that go from fast to i
furious as the evening progresses.
Developed on a low-key work-in-progress tour. each act grew out ofon-stage improvisation with the rare benefit of the critical eye of a fellow comedian. ‘When you work solo and you‘re doing i a two-hour show. there are peaks and troughs.‘ says Carrott between shows in his Skegness hotel room. ‘and purposely so; you can‘t get people roaring for two hours. because it‘s physically painful. The art ofsolo comedy is in the ability to bring people down to a chuckle in order to raise them up to hysterics. This show works in a totally
LISTINGS: THEATRE 51 CABARET 52 DANCE 53
productive and inspiring. ‘Phil tends to work in short. sharp bursts and my routines tend to be a longer theme.‘ he explains. “Phil tangents about with a purely visual piece then into a spoken piece and I’ve been thinking. yes. if you can do that. you don‘t have to stick to a theme. you can take little 3(l-second sections and just do a run of them without having a particular link and do quite a nice audience roll-up with it.‘
(‘ulminating in a question and answer session — according to Carrott. the most enjoyable part of the evening -— the show might appear to bear some of the hallmarks of the continuing fad for improvised comedy. (‘arrott‘s perspective. however. is different. and he points out that he was 7 doing improv in America as long ago as the mid~7(ls. ‘I can understand why something like Whose Line is ll Anyway." is successful.‘ he says. ‘but what amazed me was that they took it back to America! There were improv groups in America like Second City. War Babies and The (‘ommittee years ago; even today improv in America is streets ahead of what we do here — all that give me a film : director or a style or whatever. the Americans must be sniggering behind their hands! I‘ve always been an improv performer anyway. The way my routines get built up is that I take the kernel of an idea, get a punchline so I‘ve got a finish. and then . improvise in the middle. ()ver a period of3() or 40 concerts. something that starts out as five minutes : gets up to ten. twelve. even twenty. It’s a style of j humour that the vast majority of the country has ’ just caught onto over the last three or four years.‘
There‘s less of the social satire in the set than in his Carroll’s Lib days; he feels political humour has been worked to death and his interest now is to be funny ‘for funny's sake‘. Back with the ‘7 ‘convoluted monologue‘ format. he's still game to
try out the unexpected. ‘l impersonate a television ‘ aerial which is something that Phil is having a great
deal oftrouble in following. Occasionally somebody asks me to impersonate Phil. so I‘ve worked that one out — it's an abysmal - impersonation. but at the end ofthe evening it's
different way. I start offthe evening and we go for the jugular right from the off. For two hours and 40 minutes we just go out and hit it.’
By switching from Carrott‘s discursive patter to (‘ool's punchline wisecracks. the show acquires a variety and rhythm ofits own. "l‘here's not an element of competition.‘ says Carrott. ‘but at the same time if someone does a cracking set. you‘ve ; got to get out there and keep that up or else you're going to start to look very eggy. whereas if you‘re on your own you can determine your own pace. It is a very different way ofworking.‘
And for Carrott. having been in the business since the late (10s when he started running the Boggery folk club in his home-town of Solihull. working in this way has given him a welcome burst ofenergy. lle foresees a time when he‘ll leave stand-up to concentrate on television where he feels he can be more experimental. but in the short-term. working with (‘ool has been
Jasper Carroll and Phil ( 'ool. Theatre Royal. Glasgow, Sun 12 Jul.
Diana Duick, like Honor Blackman before her and Michelle Pteiffer after, has had to battle against the ‘most beautiful of her generation’ tag which is applied to a different female actor every year. That patronising,
dismissive label seems even more ironic when talking to the actor whose thoughtful one-woman adaptation of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Woman Destroyed is currently touring the country. The trio of novellas which make up The Woman Destroyed was the last work of fiction written by de Beauvoir and, in adapting the second of the three stories for the stage, Duick has chosen one of the most challenging pieces by this most polemical writer.
‘All of the stories are about women at
a crossroads in their lives, where their lives fall apart and they are destroyed,’ explains Duick. ‘In my life I have known a lot of women who are in Murielle’s predicament, in that they've been raised to believe that their destiny is to get their man, to be a good wife and to
raise children who are a credit to them. When that falls apart, the women are left to feel superfluous and to have no sense of esteem because that esteem has always been dependent on other people- on their role in other people‘s lives.’
The solitary character Murielle, in Duick’s words, ‘creates the audience‘ in order that she may share her deepest emotions which have been concealed for so long. In a stream of consciousness, Murielle reflects on the death of her daughter, and the behaviour of her husband and son. She comes across as a selfish, even manipulative, woman and any sympathy which the audience may have felt forthis lonely creature is soon dispelled amid a torrent of abuse.
‘lt‘s not popular to show women as
: real people in the theatre,‘ says Duick.
9 and certainly there‘s very little
‘Women are still portrayed in very two-dimensional terms on the whole, I
attention given to women over 40 except as subsidiary characters in other people’s stories, or as predatory monsters, or “the perfect assistant". They are very rarely accorded an interior life of their own. From the outset, Idon’t attemptto make Murielle attractive or lovable because she isn’t. But she is true. And gradually, as the play goes on, she becomes lovable because people start to recognise her.‘ (Philip Parr)
The Woman Destroyed, Tron Theatre. Glasgow, Fri 3—Sun 5Jul. ,
'Phe List 3 - to July 1992 49