Rory Bremner

Note: This review is from 2002

Review by Steve Bennett

Satire must be in a pretty sorry state if Rory Bremner is its leading exponent.

That's not to deride him as anything but a brilliant impressionist, a warmly funny commentator and a confident performer.

It's just that his humour is little more than good old-fashioned gags, dressed in the guise of satire simply because its subjects are mostly political.

Yet the jokes so often rely on puns ("he's collecting his Blair miles") or broad stereotypes for their effect (Anne Widdecombe is, apparently, not much of a looker), rather than any deep observations about the state of the country.

When talking about his Bill Clinton material, Bremner himself admits that it was less satire than a string of dick jokes. But the truth is that a lot of the stuff he is still passing off as satire is no more advanced.

Occasionally it is inspired - for example a sketch likening the Northern Ireland peace process to one of those brainteasers where you have to get foxes and geese across rivers on rowing-boats.

At other times, it's amusing simply because of the ridiculousness of the imagery he can conjure up with his impressive vocal talents, such as Robin Cook in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.

His skills are a mimic are indisputable, producing uncanny representations of even the most personality-free politicians, such as Iain Duncan Smith. But if any of the sell-out Assembly Rooms audience believes they are getting biting commentary, they are very much mistaken.

Talking of commentary, Bremner naturally reels out his impressive array of TV sports reporters - even if some of his best-known retired from the screen in recent years.

Bremner finishes with a quickfire round-up of Biblical stories, with celebrities taking all the key roles, which gets plenty of laughs - but not necessarily because of the material. Typically, he'll mention a character - for example John The Baptist wandering the wilderness, then exclaim "Oh, aye" in his best Billy Connolly. The audience cheers and laughs - but you'd be hard-pressed to identify why, other than simple recognition.

This is Bremner's first live show in four years, though it doesn't seem it, given how natural he is on stage. He's entertaining enough - but singularly fails in any satirical mission. What he really needs is the two Johns to help him.

Review date: 1 Jan 2002
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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