Angelos Epithemiou & Friends

DVD review by Steve Bennett

Has Angelos Epithemiou made himself in Vic and Bob’s image? Or have Vic and Bob made him in theirs?

Either way, since becoming a fixture on Shooting Stars, Dan Renton Skinner’s creation has risen to bona fide cult hit, now worthy of his own live DVD.

It’s surely the most unconventional of this year’s festive batch, and the most likely to divide viewers. Watching a morose social misfit reluctantly and clumsily plough through a disconnected series of cheap set pieces is unlikely to be everyone’s idea of fun. Least of all Angelos himself.

Reminders of his mentors are everywhere – from Big Night Out comes the ‘What’s in the bag, Angelos?’ catchphrase and his jerry-built ‘Dream Machine’ , covered, like Reeves’s desk, in eclectic ephemera from horse brasses to buffalo horns. From Shooting Stars comes a game-show element, with impossible- to-answer questions and pointlessly odd stunts.

But clearly it’s all meant as a sincere form of flattery, since Bob Mortimer is credited as executive producer of the disc and interviews our anoraked hero as one of the DVD extras.

Epithemiou’s persona, though, is far from Reeves’ cheesy Mr Showbiz. The one-time owner of a burger van, he doesn’t want to be mucking about here in Birmingham’s HMV Institute when he could be at home watching Britain’s Fattest Man. He admits he’s only got three jokes, is terrible at badinage and should have put more effort into learning some of the music-backed interludes.

Such anti-comedy only gets you so far, and Skinner is savvy enough to ensure that there are some bizarrely hilarious moments in the show, even if they would, technically, demand talents way beyond his creation’s ability. His gift for impersonations, for example, is as brilliant as it is unexpected. Despite his protests, he does banter with the audience, too, with his use of buzzwords such as ‘OMG’ becoming funny just for the the way it jars with his awkwardness.

The title may promise friends, but Epithemiou has none. At least not on stage. Instead we are introduced to some bleak characters by way of some disturbingly weird photographs, another strand in this ragbag of sketches.

Somehow this oddball outcast, endearing despite his social debilitation, holds this all together into something approaching a show. It’s patchy, silly nonsense, but with charm, if no real sense of purpose.

  • Angelos Epithemiou & Friends: Live is out now on 2entertain. Click here to order from Amazon for £12.97.

Published: 6 Dec 2011

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