3 March 2007

Ben Elton, Get a Grip

Get a Grip is a new comedy show from Ben Elton which will be on ITV in a few weeks and last night I went to watch the recording of the first two episodes at Teddington Studios, which is about 15 minutes walk from where I live.

The format of the show is essentially normal Ben Elton being a long whinge on an aspect of modern life. The difference this time is that the usual monologue is now a dialogue with Alexa Chung (pictured) playing a second-fiddle role as the feisty babe to contrast Ben's grumpy old man. This format seems rather outdated now and has been done much better elsewhere, e.g. Des and Mel, and almost every programme on Radio 5.

As with many of his previous TV shows, the rant is populated by some brief sketches that reinforce the point that he is trying to make. These were generally OK but added little to the punchline that you had already heard.

Disappointingly the show is amusing rather than funny, though it may tighten up in the edits. It still sounds like a Ben Elton stand-up session but it sounds heavily scripted, they even retook sections where minor fluffs made the conversation sound more natural. And Alexa's delivery was particularly wooden. She must be in the show for her looks.

For some reason that never became clear, the set is Ben and Alexa sitting behind desks looking like newsreaders, they even had folders and pens on the desks though these were never used. I would have preferred a more informal setting for the dialogue, something more like Skinner and Baddiel's sofa.

It's a shame that the show is so unfunny as Ben Elton clearly is funny and he demonstrated it again and again on the night with his comments when off camera. He should have more confidence on his own ability and rely less on precise scripts.

The evening was rescued by a visit to the pub next door, The Anglers, which is always worth a visit as it has a good range of beers and a lively clientele.

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