Dalton Trumbo's Reluctant Cabaret
Dan Renton Skinner
Dara O Briain
Dead Cat Bounce
Deborah Frances White
Delete The Banjax
Dominic Elliot Spencer
Donnchadh O Conaill
David Baddiel’s first brush with comedy was in 1982 when he wrote and performed in the Sixth Form revue at The Haberdashers Aske School, Elsetree, before developing his talents while a student at King's College, Cambridge. As well as graduating with a double-first in English Literature, he was vice president of the Footlights.
On leaving, he performed stand-up on the London circuit, while working on a PhD entitled Seductive Innocence: The Little Girl In Victorian Sexuality. There he met Robert Newman [then called Rob] and they started writing sketches for the Radio 4 show WeekEnding, which solicited work from any writers who wanted to contribute.
They were subsequently paired up with Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis for the Radio 1 comedy show The Mary Whitehouse Experience, which began in 1989. Two years later it transferred to BBC Two for two series.
Baddiel continued to work with Newman for the 1993 series Newman and Baddiel in Pieces –and later that year became the first comedians to play Wembley Arena, prompting the now clichéd saying that ‘comedy is the new rock and roll’. However, the duo’s relationship was under huge pressure at the time, and they subsequently split with some acrimony.
Baddiel then formed a partnership with Frank Skinner, who at the time was lodging at his London flat, recreating their living-room banter in both Fantasy Football League – which ran on BBC Two from 1994 to 1996, returning on ITV for the 1998 World Cup and 2004 European Championship ¬– and Unplanned, which started life as an Edinburgh Fringe show in 2000 before transferring to the West End and, eventually, TV.
In 1996, the pair teamed up with the Lightning Seeds’ Ian Broudie to record the England football anthem Three Lions, which has been a terrace favourite ever since.
Outside of these comic partnerships, Baddiel created the 2001 Sky One sitcom Baddiel's Syndrome and devised the Radio 4 panel show Heresy, which attempts to challenge received opinion. In 2009 he appeared in the 3rd series of Skins, alongside his real-life partner.
He has written three novels : Time For Bed, Whatever Love Means and The Secret Purposes and writes a regular literary column for The Times. He also wrote the 2010 comedy film The Infidel, starring Omid Djalili as a Muslim who discovers his parents were actually Jewish.
Baddiel & Skinner Unplanned: World Cup Special
Well, this was certainly an odd gig. They said it was unplanned – a launch for the duo's Absolute Radio World Cup podcasts, that was itself being recorded as a podcast – but the oddest thing of all was the planned billing. The nominal stars, David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, actually ended up as the support act for a gig featuring Keane and James, two bands probably booked because they fitted the MOR rock demographic of Absolute rather than because they both sounded as if they were named after footballers.
Proceedings kicked off with Baddiel and Skinner doing what they have become best known for, just shooting the breeze and being rude on their trademark leather sofa. Hopefully by the time they get to the tournament – presumably the sofa is staying in the UK – they will be more match fit. Last night they seemed a little rusty and could not quite hit their stride. There were very funny at times, but they were often no funnier than your sharpest mates in the boozer on a good night, which perhaps is the ambience the duo strive for.
In fact at times they were in danger of being upstaged by Pub Landlord lookalike Paul, plucked from the audience to be their onstage note-taking secretary. Paul presented them with a pair of South African horns known as vuvuzelas and told some amusing anecdotes himself. He even muscled in on their career as saviours of the England football anthem, revealing that he had recorded a World Cup song too – entitled Cabanga, the Zulu word for Imagine – and promptly pulled a CD from his pocket.
The professionals did have their moments during an extended Q&A session though, taking the obligatory mickey out of Emile Heskey and John Terry. Fish-in-a-barrel comedy perhaps, but it was certainly illuminating to discover that a Facebook site called Ashley Cole is a Tosser (actually not Tosser, but Cunt, explained Baddiel, but the podcast mustn't be too offensive) has more members than the combined memberships of sites called I Hate Hitler and Ban Child Rapists.
Baddiel was intermittently inventive – suggesting that if there is a penalty shootout maybe David James could undo his corn-rows and block the goal with his afro – but Skinner, as ever, was more naturally comical and more sharp off-the-cuff, as anyone who has seen him on BBC2's Opinionated will know. But anyone who saw his last live tour will know that he is even better when working from a honed script. When this is edited down and the serious swearing is cut out, it'll certainly make a decent podcast, but I suspect there will be better ones over the next few weeks.
Funnily, though, the twosome were more imaginative when they strayed from the soccer agenda. Maybe they have been asked whether they think England will win the World Cup too many times to be spontaneous, or maybe they just take the subject too seriously to be funny about it, but there were more laughs to be had when they drifted onto the topic of female film stars’ facial hair and Frank's flights of fancy let rip.
After a rousing first half finale of Three Lions with Ian Broudie and a string quartet, the post-break section turned into the aforementioned rock gig, with B&S briefly returning to fill time during set changes. ‘It feels like a charity gig except that everyone is getting paid,’ observed Skinner. With Absolute logos peppering the stage it also felt a bit like a corporate gig. Or one of those private shows where Rod Stewart entertains the Sultan of Brunei and his chums, so I suspect B&S are being paid very handsomely for the link-up. Who would have thought talking rubbish about sport and Kate Winslet’s bum-fluff could be so lucrative?
And just for the record, Frank is trying to be optimistic about England lifting the trophy but under the surface is rather more realistic. Or as he put it in the way only he could, a bit like when he used to try to believe that Elton John and Kiki Dee were an item, but in his heart of hearts knew the truth.
|Date of live review: Tuesday 8th Jun, '10|
Review by Bruce Dessau
Show - Film -
His Times book section efforts were an embarrassment - increasingly desperate attempts to cover the fact that he simply hadn't read many books in his life.
I think Baddiel has had a lot of undeserved criticism. A funny comedian who happened to work better in a partnership. I've just watched the Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned DVD and he was every bit as funny as Frank. Lay off.
This so called comedian has made a career through luck rather than talent. He has been part of double acts and survived because the other person was the talent.
I turn to his column first in the Times Books section on Saturdays. I'd like to see him on Have I Got News for you.
Not really funny is he outside the 'History' sketches with Newman? A sort of lefty version of Terry Scott for the 90s. Careerwise he's been Mr Coat-tails though away from comedy he seems quite personable and modest, but then he's plenty to be modest about..
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