Stephen Carlin: Armchair Renaissance Man

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Stephen Carlin’s show is so much like sitting through a regional sales conference in a Kettering Travelodge it’s not funny. Literally.

He talks in dry monotone, like an inexperienced middle manager, and employs PowerPoint presentations with the same panache – nil. He keeps on showing us slides and reading out exactly what it says on the screen, and when there’s a graph – which you can absorb in seconds – he insists on talking us through it at great length. It is PowerPoint without the point.

The point of Carlin’s humour is that he takes the mundane and takes it stupidly seriously, and to ridiculous extremes, without ever letting on that this is getting daft. Very occasionally that shines through here, but too often he doesn’t distinguish between faking tedium and the real thing.

Last year Carlin came across as something different, as he often does on the circuit, but this sophomore show stretches the concept too thin, and he slides into the grindingly dull for much of the time, unrelieved by any irony.

Some of his segments actually start quite promisingly. You can’t be anything but curious about the premise that you should always avoid films heralded with reference to hydrocarbons, and this, indeed, does turn to be one of the better sections.

But others start dull – that the film Trainspotting isn’t actually about trainspotting, say – and get worse the more arid analysis he heaps on to it.

There is plenty of originality to Carlin’s character, but creating a new hour in a year with this most challenging of personas has proved too tall an order. It’s a show that needs more work, and a lot less technology.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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