All entries for Friday 12 March 2010

March 12, 2010

Tim Vine, Warwick Arts Centre, 11th March

I spent today mostly watching Tim Vine and bemoaning how the rise of the cheap, easy to use, contact lens has decimated the previously wonderfully prevalent “cute girl with glasses” look.

Try as I might I can’t spin the latter out in to a blog entry, so Tim Vine then.

He’s an odd one. The only person that really matches him in style and substance is Harry Hill: it’s that mixture of smart one-liners crossed with utter insanity that means they can both fill venues like the 1500 seater theatre at Warwick Arts Centre. Yet pretty much no-one else is doing it. Every other comic doing one-liners tends to be either dark and understated (Jimmy Carr, Gary Delaney) or sardonic and understated (Milton Jones). A quick look on YouTube pretty much explains the act and tells you if you’ll like him, so I’m going to get straight in to the deconstructionist comedy geekery.

It’s a regular comedy dilemma. If you’re a stand-up that work almost entirely with one-liners you’ll generally do well on the club circuit (assuming you can write). But how do you take that and turn it in to something that works for an entire hour or more – which is almost a necessity these days if comics want to get ‘noticed’ at the Edinburgh Fringe. Vine’s answer is to sandwich the jokes with songs. Taken on their own the songs are fairly bad. If you pull them apart they’re about on par with a musical comic who’s just starting out. Rarely more than one gag per song, some don’t even have punchline, others are just weird for the sake of it. But to do that misses the point. They exist to provide a respite from the rapid-fire joke-joke-joke of the rest of the show. It’s okay to have just one joke in a two minute song, or try and get a laugh from just how silly it is, since in the previous two minutes he did 15 one-liners.

That’s the genius of Vine’s act really. It’s paced so the jokes are always coming, but never to the point where you feel fatigued, or slip in to a rhythm and stop paying attention. He’s squared the comedy circle…

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