“It’s like This Morning, but at 11pm not 11am”. Today’s Late Late Morning Show Live!, a parody of contemporary British talk show culture, is rife with such contradictions. Hosts Jimmy (Jamie Bisping) and Billy (Will Owen) address their virtual and theatrical audience through a series of ‘cringey-comic’ meta-reality-TV sketches, which include (amongst others) university-oriented cooking tutorials by Prue and Sue, a live performance of a Eurovision-nominee song on cows, and a mock interview of sorts with Nicola Sturgeon, ironically played by an audience-volunteer, and thus largely silent. Undoubtedly, it’s an ambitious programme for a one hour comedy in the ADC’s late slot.
But the extent to which this production is laugh-out-loud entertaining is questionable. Some scenes were just a little too painful to watch: the Easy Peeling Oranges’ tipsy tirade on bananas and grapefruits perhaps required an audience in a similar state of mind for it to be fully appreciated, and Sue and Prue’s real-time concoction of ‘Vorange’ and ‘Smash’ could have been slightly shorter. There was something slightly amateurish about the ‘un-coordinated but still somehow coordinated’ chemistry between Jimmy and Billy. They would say the wrong words in unison, or the same ones on an off-beat. However, as the show progressed, this was redeemed by their amusing bickering and Billy’s jealousy over Jimmy’s name-dropping.
Indeed, there are moments of genuine comedy in Today’s Late Late Morning Show Live!. The re-adaptation of the ‘My Calvins’ advert, the characterisation of Knightsbridge-raised-Eton-boy rapper Danny B “who was brought up from a hard background” and the excessive punning of the Decluttering Duo (“chasing paper at Paperchase” and “hoovering around” to name a few) were enough to get the audience on Wednesday’s performance roaring with laughter and clapping constantly.
Whether it was intentional or not, the precariousness and sparseness of Abby Zucker’s set also contributed to the giddy atmosphere. The flimsy golden foil door curtain fell down every time someone entered and left the stage, and the haphazard layout of furniture led to frequent on-stage collisions. In the midst of this, the spontaneity that comes with audience participation unleashed a degree of unpredictable laughter.
Perhaps what is most likeable about this production is the candidly self-deprecating tone of its hosts. They seem to admit that there is such thing as bad humour: Jimmy convinces Danny B to rap because the “audience is smaller than the Christmas pantomime’s”. All the same, I never found myself looking at my watch during the show. There must be some truth to ‘time flies when you are having fun’ – even if you sometimes feel a little guilty for it.
P.S. Thanks for the shout-out to TCS. You might not have been right about the five-star review, but we were certainly “out there somewhere”.