Eugene Mirman, Greenwich Comedy Festival, London
Monday 20 September 2010
There's no denying that he makes an affable host, but it's a pity that the comedic value of this full-framed American performer is so slight.
The dividend is in part due to the fact that like a lot of brainiac comics, on both sides of the Atlantic, Mirman, who has a recurring role as the lads' landlord in Flight of the Conchords, adopts a scrapbook approach, offering his audience a bit of this and a bit of that to keep his racing mind satisfied.
Specifically, in the case of Mirman tonight, the scrapbook contains – among other things – video clips, a complaint letter about a ticket for speeding, some spoof internet adverts and one-liners accompanied by the obscure musical instrument the theremin.
The latter ruse does little to enhance gags that work adequately on their own ("I wonder if bulls think it's sexy when cows make out?"), but if you are not a one-liner merchant per se it's easy to feel it incumbent on you to dress the gags up a little when they are isolated among other elements.
Perhaps I cannot wholly join in the fun because I'm not confident about how his show is put together. I still feel slightly uneasy about comics using video pieces, for example, when they might do better to perform character pieces live.
Mirman does this tonight with his spoof advice video "How to Nab a Husband" (that can be found on YouTube) in which he proffers "May I suggest being awesome?" before giving the battle of the sexes the dynamic of FDR's New Deal and suggesting sex that "saves the economy."
The abortive Q&A at the end (never a great idea) doesn't help, and neither does a closing vignette about how, when he was a kid, a man once reacted to his surname by exclaiming "Merman! Man from the sea!" It's a big whoop moment from a big man with no small amount of talent.
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