Jim Campbell: Stupid Animals | Review by Steve Bennett
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Jim Campbell: Stupid Animals

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

Jim Campbell’s got some strong lines in his repertoire, but there’s a feeling he’s treading water with this relaxed, but unspectacular hour.

His reach is broad, but not very deep, pulling together all manner of strands such as animal behaviour, his long-term singledom and religion into a vague intellectual narrative about human superiority, overpopulation and irrelevance.

Some of this is surprisingly unambitious. Bashing the idiocy of the BNP is easy pickings, though Campbell – who is from their Essex heartland – rightly argues ‘it’s a drum that needs to be banged’. True, but there’s probably a better way of doing it than applying simple sarcasm to the ‘party’s’ rather dull report of one of their less racist protests, and the accompanying comments on the website.

Creationists are another easy target, and it doesn’t take a genius to find holes in their beliefs.

Campbell says he can’t be a usual observational comic, since he’s a functioning human being who can use a supermarket self-service checkout without difficulty – and certainly a lot of his set does find new angles. But there’s also more workmanline talk of vajazzles and how a burkha could conceal roller-skates, making a woman seem like she’s gliding. Apt because for a lot of the show it feels as if Campbell’s just gliding, too.

His cool delivery is rather too static and disconnected, although he indulges in some playful audience interaction for one set piece involving a trusting audience member’s iPhone, that really stands out.

Much of his material does, too, suggesting he’s so much better than the more familiar stuff would suggest. Powered by eloquent turns of phrase, he’s got a wonderful alternative name for babies (he’s not a fan), confesses how he got his kicks during his long girlfriend drought, and entertainingly describes an alternative to the Wedding March that played at a friend’s nuptuals.

It’s generally just silly stuff, articulately put, but his comedy sometimes has a point such as the Beano’s promotion of bullying via Dennis The Menace, or the bizarre reinvention of Mike Tyson as the convicted rapist/comedy turn.

That’s true of his better jokes, which have a rare permanence, staying with you after the show’s over. But there seems a little too much mediocre padding: the hallmark of a difficult second show after a well-received debut burns all the material.

Review date: 25 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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