Freedumb™

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

In this increasingly screwed-up world, political comedy is on the rise ­ and that's a bandwagon Phil Nichol wants to hijack.

Global socio-political economics might be a big subject for a man whose strongest comedy devices are borderline-psychotic screeching and a ditty about a lonely homosexual Inuit, but he's not a man to be deterred.

Along with fellow comic Janice Phayre, the former Juice Pig has decided to aim for such media-savvy do-gooders as Michael Moore rather than the politics itself, shooting the messenger instead of joining the crowded market in liberal indignation.

Well, at least liberal commentators are one identifiable target in this confused, rag-tag mess of a show, which chucks in such a scattergun range of topics and comedy styles that the effect is as dizzying as it is baffling.

Nichol's rages against the corporate machine are as terrifyingly, hypnotically entertaining as you might expect; as are his blazing rows with Phayre, who's similarly skilled in releasing tirades of pent-up aggression.

But it's only their considerable attention-grabbing performance skills that stop this sliding into an utterly chaotic shambles, and even then it's a close-run thing. Weak characters, a lacklustre script and a flagrant disregard for any sort of consistency all contribute to the disappointment.

Thrown into the simmering casserole of half-baked ideas are a puppet Mexican boy, a parody of epic war films as performed by naturists, a lullaby in the style of Slipknot and two giant afterlife snails.

There maybe something cultish to 'get' here ­ but if there is, it's well hidden among this aimless, directionless jumble of ideas. The duo have obviously gone to great efforts with the props and the filmed inserts, but that care doesn't appear to be reflected in the finished article.

Nichol and Pharye do save a few treasures from the rubble. A pin-sharp parody of Scandanavian trip-hop is simply sublime ­ if entirely out of place - and there maybe half a dozen decent gags to enjoy. But it's very slim pickings ­ especially considering Nichol's proven talents as a stand-up, and Phayre's as an actor.

Review date: 1 Jan 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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