Neil McFarlane – Original Review

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Looking somewhat like a young Eric Idle, Neil McFarlane sometimes announces himself as a ‘posh Glaswegian’, as if such a thing was previously unheard-of, but it’s the lever he needs for some predictable spiel about not fitting the city’s hardman stereotype.

In fitting with that image, his delivery is cool and aloof – and he knows it. ‘Next slide please,’ he deadpans as if addressing a tedious middle-management conference, perfectly mocking his own style.

In material, he’s not especially exciting, but the confidence of years means he proves amiable company. But the delivery is uneven. He can take forever saying very little or - in apparent contradiction - he can also take a topic and string a crippling weight of jokes onto it, fearing that any opportunity for a gag shouldn’t be wasted. Problem is, there’s no quality control and the effect of such a deluge of poor-quality lines is to dilute, rather than enhance.

Where he does score well, however, is with material based on his day job at the BBC Complaints Department. Here he seizes the chance to mercilessly tease the complainants in a way he presumably can’t do in the office. Although inconsistent, his best writing is offbeat, showing a clear ability to craft a joke. But then he drops the ball with a few clunky gags, too, and his callbacks seem awkwardly shoehorned in for their own sake, rather than emerging subtly and naturally.

Review date: 24 Sep 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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