Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Andy Parsons : Slacktivist (2013)

Andy Parsons. 

The forgotten, overlooked one from Mock the Week



The one who doesn't sell out the big theatres courting as much controversy as he does acclaim (Frankie Boyle) or the arenas like 'one of those Russell's comedy has nowadays' (specifically the lazy eyed Bristolian boy band reject, Russell Howard) or even the genial host (Dara O'Briain) He doesn't have a popular series of his own (Dara has The Apprentice: You're Fired, Hugh Dennis has the sitcoms Outnumbered and Not Going Out and Russell has, unbelievably, Russell Howard's Good News - if you ask me, it'd be good news if they axed the show) Parsons has nothing really. 

Another satirical panel show - Have I Got News For You - once substituted a no show guest booking for a tub of lard. I'm not saying Andy could be replaced on Mock The Week by a tub of lard...but a boiled egg with a smiley face could probably do his job on the satirical show.

It's not that he's not capable of being funny, it's just that he's been there so long now and seems totally comfortable in continuously providing gags that encourage the same safe half smile reaction from its audience. And he's done that for so long now that he's simply part of the furniture.

And yet to my surprise he’s managed to get a few DVDs out and this, aired on BBC2 last night, is apparently his third, entitled Slacktivist.

Some of the themes Parsons approaches are interesting ones to mine comedy gold from; the finance industry, the major political parties here in the UK, minimum wage, immigration....but he also tackles softer more mainstream populist targets such as Simon Cowell, EastEnders by way of Shakespeare, Fifty Shades of Grey and embarrassing mishaps and recollections from his life. It's a shame really because, in ploughing this furrow, it shows how needy he is for laughs and how uncertain he is of his audiences. Playing to the less than auspicious Harrogate Theatre (no offence to the establishment or its attendees) he plays safe, tossing in some political barbs but then balancing it up with stuff for the masses. This would be OK were it not for the fact that his political material, whilst sound, is largely the stuff of Radio 4; the kind of tittersome material as opposed to anything truly cutting or thought provoking.

Parsons has consistently proved that he's an amiable enough comedian,  but it's this obvious resistance to break out and try to be anything unique or special that explains why he's not as successful as his Mock The Week colleagues. There’s little here to raise any real laughter and as such it remains a distinctly unmemorable set from a performer who is clearly happy to paddle in the shallow end of live comedy.

Parsons, you're slacking.

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