Friday, 19 May 2017

Radio Review: 19 May

The Fawlty Towers star takes on a comic DJ role

Written by Louis Barfe
It’s sometimes said that comedy is a young person’s game, but this isn’t necessarily true. Think of that glorious Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse pilot I reviewed a few Louis-Barfe-colour-176weeks back. They’re as funny as they’ve ever been if not more so.Iindeed, having proved themselves endlessly over the years, they appear to be using their elder status to attack smugness and complacency rather than embrace it.

So, I sat down to listen to the first John Cleese Presents (Radio 4, Wednesdays, 9.30am) in two minds. Obviously as a Python and Fawlty devotee since I was only slightly more than a toddler, I wanted it to be great. However, most of Cleese’s output since A Fish Called Wanda didn’t fill me with hope.

Fortunately, the bulk of the material involved is Cleese reading from his autobiography, which is illuminating and amusing. For example, he explains that Basil Fawlty’s internal pressure cooker of fury was based on someone at his prep school who had trouble drawing a perfect circle with his compass. Somewhere around 320 degrees, without fail, the point slipped.

The boy decided to sharpen the point. It kept slipping. Cleese, standing by, was laughing and the boy’s boiling frustration was increasing steadily. This sort of thing is fascinating to comedy nerds like me, although history does not record whether the boy in question ever went on to carry a Spanish waiter bodily through a Torquay hotel.

Sadly, the comic device topping and tailing the extracts, with Cleese as an inept disc jockey who forgets that radio is not television, fails to raise a titter and, as it’s what you hear first, many could be forgiven for switching off. As it is, I don’t know if i’ll persevere. I might just have to buy the book.

Louis on Twitter: @AlanKelloggs or email:

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