y all accounts. Jack Dee is a perfectionist who likes to be in control. At one time. perhaps. he had to be in control to make the rampant cynicism of his comedy persona believable. Fluffed lines or larking about from the audience could sap his often

menacing power to provoke laughter.

As he’s become more experienced as a stand- up comic. Dee has increasingly allowed that snarly, pitbull-faced countenance to slip. Last

year’s tour indicated his willingness to pull funny faces with the best of them, something that would have been unthinkable in an earlier incarnation.

Now Dee is taking an even bigger risk - he’s

sharing the limelight with larger-than-life comics like Freddie Starr who threaten to turn the host into the straight man on his own show.

When Jack I )(’(’ 's Satzmlcrv Night arrives on ITV.

its heralds the first ofthe post-Comic Strip breed

of comedians to storm this bastion of television

light entertainment. He’s doing a Saturday

I evening variety show for goodness sake. sharing

, , i ;_ . a hill with Hale and Pace andjugglers from the .r -‘

Chinese State Circus. It would be no surprise to find Barbara Dickson popping up with her guitar for a bit of musical interlude. but in fact Dee has hooked Bjork and Paul Weller. Truly something for all the family. it would seem. So, is this suburban subversion or total sell out. Jack? Neither. he says. Unlike the slightly older generation of stand-ups. separated by about five years and headed by Ben Elton who insisted on delivering his ‘little bit of politics'. Dee never bought in to the idea of telling jokes as a form of biting social comment. And if you don’t buy in, you

Television’s best—dressed stand-up has already invaded ITV with a series of witty advertisements for beer with widgets. Now he’s hosting his own prime time comedy show. Is the mainstream ready for Jack Dee, asks Eddie Gibb.

/ z ; -

6 The List l-l4 Dec 1995