Tim Clark: Talking to Ted

Note: This review is from 2002

Review by Steve Bennett

Comedy Store regular Tim Clark exposes the most shameful chapter of his life in this brave, confessional piece of theatre.

The drama starts with him driving up the motorway: smoking, drinking, snorting coke - and trying to placate his two families. And that pretty much encapsulates all his vices.

Two years ago, Clark was living a double life with two children by two women, his wife unaware of his other son's existence. Clearly this is fertile ground for a one-man stage show.

But if anything, Clark had just got a few too many demons - and the narrative doesn't always know which one to follow.

There's the archetypal drink and drug-fuelled descent of the comedian - a happy charismatic figure on stage but a wreck off it - a story depressingly familiar from many great stars of the past.

Then there's the constant deceit, maintaining the duplicity that would eventually prove devastating to everyone caught in its wake.

And, somewhat incongruously, there's the chance for him to mouth off about the grind of corporate comedy gigs and the stalling of his own career - complaints achieved by setting much of the action in an anonymous hotel room in the hours preceding an uninspiring insurance industry bash.

Clarke's also found a way to use some of his usual compering material - and even his poster quote from The Guardian - into this show.

But the professional complaints verge on the trivial in the unseemly mess that was his life.

At times, the cocaine storyline is a bit Trainspotting - especially in its mention of dead babies and the assertions that drugs make you feel great at least for a while.

Overall, it's a mix of thoughtful personal emotion and more generic material. At best, he's externalising the inner debates he must have run through a thousand times about the guilt of screwing up his life. At worst, it's just a little inelegantly executed - for example, making an analogy of his self-destructive tendencies with the suicidal Twin Towers terrorists.

But it's a very strong performance - after all, if anyone should know the emotions associated with this situation, it's Clark - but his descent to breaking point is compelling. And he can conjure up an effective cast of supporting characters - his families, his dealer, his agent - to populate the monologue.

This is an ambitious effort at a sensitive piece for someone more usually associated with trading knob gags and hackneyed insults with beered-up hecklers. It may not entirely come off, but it certainly indicates there's more to Clarke than his career to date has suggested.

Review date: 1 Jan 2002
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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