Looking back on Vic & Bob’s long career as ‘Britain’s Top Light Entertainers’, it sometimes feels like they’ve been under appreciated. Not by the rabid fans of course, but in the mainstream consciousness. You’re far more likely to find someone in the pub quoting The Fast Show than you are someone talking about Morrisey the Consumer Monkey, or shrieking about marzipan in a Geordie falsetto…
Reeves and Mortimer have always been far too weird to really break through, as proven by their ill-fated prime time BBC1 gameshow ‘Families at War’. It turns out that families don’t tune in to see a man in a hippy wig shouting ‘I am the water boat-man’ while playing a Casio keyboard.
With that in mind, a show that looks back on 25 years of steadfastly swimming against the grain (or downright stupidity, depending on how you look at it) is always going to be an interesting one, and after the unfortunate cancelation of November’s planned tour (we’re very glad Bob’s alright), this work in progress gig promises a series of shows that shouldn’t disappoint.
The London show was in the Leicester Square Theatre. I took along my wife who wasn’t at all familiar with R&M’s work, but she still cracked up at new material – Bob explaining about his son’s facial reconstruction (“He’s starting to be recognisable as a human being at this point. I’d say he’s about the level of Greg Wallace”) and enjoyed the classic songs littered throughout. You can tell this is still a case of nailing things down, with two possible opening tunes tried on for size (‘Hello, We’re a Couple a’ Girls’ gets my vote). Even the threadbare veneer of professionalism that graces their TV shows is noticeably absent. Bob forgets to bring out props or questions, while Vic wanders off topic during every other sentence, but it’s all done with such self-deprecation that you don’t mind at all. The constant corpsing adding to the good, simple fun of watching two middle-aged men being very silly indeed.
In between skits we’re treated to short films of classic sketches – Geordie jeans are nice and tight around yer arse – and Vic and Bob take solo turns throughout. Vic’s interview with a crab about Scottish Arboreal forestry is a particular highlight. Some of it falls a bit flat, and part of me couldn’t help wishing for more new stuff, but The Man With The Stick is still hilarious, and it’s fun to see them shout about letting things lie. Just add in a touch more hitting each other with frying pans and a dash of Mulligan and O’Hare and it would be perfect.
Not a perfect Reeves & Mortimer show, but a very funny hour of weird invention that knocks most sketch comedy into a cocked hat.