Steve Coogan, Hammersmith Apollo, London

We still love to hate the loser in the sports jacket

Given the mixed reception of earlier dates on this tour, with criticism focusing on slapdash writing and half-baked performances, it is a relief that by the time Steve Coogan lands in London he has steadied the ship, delivering an altogether slicker production.

The show, entitled Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge and Other Less Successful Characters, flags badly when presenting those lesser billed characters. Much of the enjoyment, in particular for Pauline Calf and her "I've had him" refrain, is underlined by old affection rather than any new jokes. A lot of the material feels rather tired. In particular the songs are poor, while knowingly risqué jokes about suicide bombers, Muslims and paedophiles fall flat.

The emergence of Paul Calf, Coogan's foul-mouthed Mancunian drunk, raises spirits considerably. He delivers some funny lines, with Ross Kemp, Stephen Hawking and Calf's bewilderment at the demonising of smokers providing good fodder.

The show's second half is devoted to Alan Partridge and it is obvious that this is what the audience has been waiting for. The new sketches that Coogan places Partridge in aren't in themselves particularly strong, but it is a measure of the brilliance of this comic creation that he remains extremely funny.

The first sketch sees Partridge become a motivational speaker. While this is perhaps a natural progression, it's also a well-worn comic target. A sketch with Partridge performing in a play he has written about Thomas More is quite aimless. Yet Alan just being Alan is still funny. You do wonder, though, how long Coogan can keep returning to him. At one point Partridge goes on an extended riff bellowing his catchphrase "aha" maniacally over and over – perhaps this is a veiled expression of the comedian's feelings about the character?

The show ends on a higher note, with, surprisingly, a song. In it Coogan steps away from his characters to sing about "himself", addressing tabloid

revelations about his private life. In a manner that is the hallmark of the best Alan Partridge material, the song wrings humour from smugness and embarrassment, tackling potentially awkward elements of his personal and public personas, and despite Coogan's much referenced shortcomings, the chorus jauntily concludes with a Monty Python-like shrug of the shoulders. Nobody's perfect.

The song contains some of the funnier lines of the evening and suggests that there may still be fresh life in this comic performer. He just needs to put the old characters to bed and concentrate on a new one: Steve Coogan.

Touring nationally to 14 December

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

    Tate Sensorium

    New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
    Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

    Remember Ashton Agar?

    The No 11 that nearly toppled England
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks