Andy Zaltzman Unveils The 2002 Catapult Of Truth

Note: This review is from 2002

Review by Steve Bennett

That someone is tackling the intelligently surreal, all-encompassing comedy that Andy Zaltzman does is surely a good thing. Whether it should be him is becoming increasingly debatable.

A bit harsh, admittedly, but Zaltzman is frequently let down by his delivery, and this show is no exception.

He demands a lot of his audiences - you have to be alert to follow the winding arguments and catch onto the obtuse analogies - but he doesn't make it easy, with little charisma nor enough variety in pace and structure.

It's telling that the high point in this hour was a game of Despot Top Trumps, with various leaders from Hitler to George W Bush battling it out in a variety of absurd categories. Here were lots of good points, cleverly, concisely and wittily made, with a device to break up the monotone monologues.

But this is the only such maguffin he employs. In last year's affair, which earned him the Perrier newcomer nod, the Dog of Doom provided a handy excuse to break up Zaltzman's diatribes into bite-sized morsels, but this time the veracity-hurling device of the title is merely employed in some shamelessly silly shenanigans to close the show.

That finale is one of several good moments in the show, but too often the tales seem slow and laden.

He also tries too hard to be indirect sometimes, with unnecessarily complex stories and deliberately show-offy references to demonstrate his intelligence, rather than cut to the punchline.

There's a fine line between dumbing down and simply making complex ideas accessible, and Zaltzman hasn't yet got that incredibly delicate balance right.

Zaltzman himself seems to concede that he hasn't yet found the right vessel for his message. "Don't judge me on one gig," he implores at the show's conclusion. "If you'd judged Ayrton Senna only on his last race you would have a pretty poor impression of his driving ability."

But by then, it was a bit too late for pithy one-liners - even if it proves that Zaltzman can actually tell a joke in something shorter than essay form.

Review date: 1 Jan 2002
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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