Hal Perrier best newcomer nominee

Note: This review is from 2002

Review by Steve Bennett

Hal Cruttenden is scared. He's scared of ghosts, of crime and of not having the courage of his liberal convictions.

He's scared he's an ineffectual male role model for his children, and, crucially, he's scared he could be conceived as just another middle-class white male comedian, with no distinguishing features.

These latter fears do have some validity - after all, he's hardly in a minority - but if nothing else he is distinguishing himself by being consistently funny and original.

The material could reasonably be described as safe and cosy, but it's also warmly self-mocking, witty and socially incisive.

In fact Hal prides himself on being 'emotionally aware' - though it embarrasses him in equal measure, as it's hardly considered a macho trait. And such gender role models - especially the stereotype behaviour associated with heterosexual and homosexual men - are a recurring motif here.

It could be overanalysed as the social politics of sexuality - but mainly this is just a show about Hal. Well, the clue is in the title.

He does touch on other topics - including a brilliant take on the myth that single people 'only find live when they are not looking for it' and some original post September 11 stuff. However, he less personal material sometimes plays on passé themes, no matter how strong the observations he makes.

Cruttenden also claims he's politically motivated, though his humour goes no further than an accurate impression of Tony Blair as a builder - a discrepancy between his ideals and his work that he's acutely aware of.

But he also takes pride in the fact that his show does have a message, And that the message is actually: "Love me, love me - I should be on telly more."

Such sentiment is symptomatic of the insecurities and self-doubt that dominate Hal's life - and his stand-up. Ironically, this could just end up being the thing that sets this increasingly assured comic apart.

Review date: 1 Jan 2002
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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