Ray Peacock Podcast: Live
Show type: Misc live shows
Last year, acclaimed stand-up Ray Peacock, along with his friend Ed Gamble, kidnapped actor Raji James (East is East, Doctor Who, and – notoriously - EastEnders) and started to record their abuse of his idiocy. The Ray Peacock Podcast was born, and its hilarious, rambling, unscripted brilliance was immediately recognised by the The Times who named it as Podcast of the Week a day after the first episode aired.
Re-named as Little Raji James Who Used To Be On EastEnders But Ruined It, the rubbish actor now faces the ultimate humiliation of having this abuse recorded in front of an audience as well.
The Ray Peacock Podcast Live are five exclusive Arts Theatre recordings of the cult-hit show.
If you haven’t heard the Ray Peacock Podcast before… well, what are you waiting for? They are hosted on this very website.
If you have, then you will need no introduction to the trio, their official roles and their relationship: Peacock is the cheeky, disruptive ringmaster, showing off to sidekick Big Fat Ed Gamble as he mercilessly teases Little Raji James Who Used To Be In EastEnders But Ruined It. With their sniggering childishness, petty victimisation and filthy mouths, they are a human version of South Park.
Gamble usually acts as the goading audience for Peacock as he winds up his naïve friend James but now, after 30 episodes taped at Peacock’s house, they have chosen to record five shows in front of live audiences.
It changes the dynamic of the show slightly – for the better – and the live set-up will add atmosphere to the broadcasts.
But what of the experience of watching it live? Well, it’s very much like any BBC radio recording, where the punters serve primarily as background to the taping. The comedy is certainly directed at the listeners at home, rather than those in the Arts Theatre studio, but it’s still fun to be sitting in on the action. Plus, it feels slightly long – whereas the podcasts are edited down to a sharp 40 minutes, about three times that footage was recorded tonight.
There is an intimate, clubby feel to the night. Almost everyone there has been following the weekly episodes and is up on all the vital in-jokes and personality traits. But it’s not too difficult to be brought up to speed...
James is the hapless patsy who, very much like the similarly put-upon Karl Pilkington in Ricky Gervais’s record-breaking podcasts, never stops to think before he speaks, giving Peacock, and sometimes Gamble, plenty of material to seize upon. ‘I was made to drink some wee once,’ he says matter-of-factly at one point tonight, with no thought that this will inevitably lead to five minutes of pitiless mickey-taking.
Running gags include Raji’s floundering career – which even he admits is ‘on hiatus’ following his run in Albert Square, on The Bill and EastEnders – his ceaseless ability to put his foot in his mouth and how easily he is suckered by practical jokes played by his cohorts. No holds are barred in their teasing, even sailing close to racism at times, but swathed in irony, of course.
Usually James has nowhere to hide from the torment, but with an audience sympathetic to the underdog, he finds some support, and consequently confidence in playing up to them. He even cracks a couple of funny, quick-witted gags, which you rarely hear on the podcasts. Perhaps that’s because Peacock’s in charge of the editing.
In one of the best segments of the night, James rises to a challenge set by the others: to perform stand-up in the guise of a cocksure black American comic, Raji ‘Hot Dog’ Mac. Dressed in a suit made out of bin bags – supposedly representing Eddie Murphy’s iconic Raw outfit – he belted out a high-octane set lifted from various Def Comedy Jam acts, to a suitably ear-splitting volume of mindless whoops and hollers. Never mind the material, which bordered on the racist (again…), his performance energised the audience, and proved a good way of using the live crowd in the podcast situation.
Another highlight was provided by Gamble, reading the latest instalment in his chronicles of Richard The Wanker – a middle-aged man who posts regular videos on the internet of himself masturbating over photographs. As Gamble dryly provides what can only be described as stroke-by-stroke commentary, the combination of his wide-eyed innocence being assaulted by the horrific images he describes plus his brilliantly florid language provides yet another hilarious segment, as every week.
Elsewhere, it’s business as usual; which means embarrassment upon embarrassment being heaped on James with stories from his EastEnders past, the time he stopped for suspected kerb-crawling in King’s Cross or breeding an army of killer cats to eke his revenge on the world. One of those three may be fictional.
The live show, like the podcast, feels like hanging out with pals – two of whom are ruthless in their pisstaking. It could do with more concessions to engage with punters in the room a little more and vary the mood – even if such segments don’t make the final cut. But special guests are promised for the rest of the run, which could certainly fulfil that remit. And if you’re not in on the in-jokes, you’d better start listening to the back catalogue of podcasts on Chortle.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
April 23, 2008