Tour Review: Jasper Carrott & Alistair McGowan
Well Observed Impressions
McGowan’s well observed impressions drive his act forward, one after the other, some nicely catching the ear, especially those where other impressionists haven’t yet trodden such as Dara O’Briain, Milton Jones and a wonderful Jo Brand. Alistair goes through a number of current Newsreaders followed later by a traditional ‘Dads Army’ routine, mimicking most of the famous sit-com characters in story line fashion. He wastes little time getting into a sporting theme of football managers not only impersonating them but parodying their styles, Mourinho, Hodgson and Southgate among his targets.
There is no better impressionist than McGowan in the country. Although this talent has led to TV series, tours and plenty of voice over work, it is often forgotten he started as an Actor, trained at the Guildhall. A performer who was blessed with the gift of doing voices, taking his talent into the comedy clubs at a time impressionism was losing its appeal. It’s what McGowan did with his work that brought him success and with it the inevitable pigeon holing that occurs in the entertainment business. It may surprise some, to hear of his solo tour as a pianist, playing some of his favourite pieces after enjoying a classical chart-topping debut CD, simply named Alistair McGowan: ‘The Piano Album’. He’s acted in the theatre for the RSC and TV dramas such as Dickens ‘Bleak House’. Alistair may say in a Michael Caine accent – ‘Not a lot of people know that’.
Attention to Detail
What both these artistes have in common is their attention to detail, what works, what doesn’t, new bits and old bits discarded at a time most would be happy to sit back and ponder their career while criticising the youngsters coming up, with the beginning phrase, ‘In my day ..’ Not these two. Still fighting for their audience and enjoying it. Jasper the elder statesman quite comfortably admits ‘times have changed, my television days are over’.
That doesn’t mean he’s a lesser comic. Carrott has looked after himself, voice fully intact and the delivery remains the same, with clever building of anecdotal routines through a street attitude and mentality that once sold millions of comedy LP records. The style may seem common today, but back when he made his name, it wasn’t. The traditional one liner and drawn out joke was the norm. He started his career in the folk clubs rather than the social & cabaret scene, hence his delivery was something different, refreshing and nothing has changed.
Jasper, now in his seventies moves around more than he did in his heyday. Comfortably strutting the stage in traditional comic style, mike on a lead as opposed to his 1970’s static stance with guitar around neck, which he seldom played. Now he collects his stringed instrument from the wings, to regale us with some hilarious short, sharp parodies of recognisable songs. His anecdote on meeting Diana Princess of Wales for the first time was typical of his style, contrasting a down to earth attitude against a pompous hierarchy. His other targets include Birmingham Airport, Wolverhampton, wigs and Trump – ‘Where’s Lee Harvey Oswald when you need him’? He also gave a replay rendition of his famous ‘car insurance’ routine with updated cases of drivers trying to explain their actions in an accident. Appealing to the audience to send him more.
There’s plenty in this show to be enjoyed by younger comedy fans, as both artists are far from their performing sell by date.
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.