Miles Jupp: Gentlemen Prefer Brogues

Note: This review is from 2003

Review by Steve Bennett

Miles Jupp sets out his upper-crust credentials from the start. "I'm privileged," he says, "not just to be here but in general."

And that's pretty much the tone for the evening, a minor aristocrat struggling to comprehend the lot of the ordinary man, sneering at their proletariat ways while simultaneously revealing himself to be an incompetent, unfeeling relic.

He's the sort of chap who uses the word 'chap' - and 'chuffed' and 'rugger' - completely unselfconsciously, giving the audience an instant handle on where he's coming from.

Such a creation will always run the risk of being a one-note stereotype, lacking the complexity to sustain an hour. Thankfully, it's a pitfall Jupp mostly avoids, due entirely to some top-notch writing.

While an air of superiority is a strong standpoint for a character to have, such a cold, unexcitable persona has to rely entirely on the strength of the material. And for the most part, Jupp has crafted some classy lines that don't let him down.

Above all, he's mastered the tag-line - that little 'afterthought' that follows the punchline - producing two killer laughs for the price of one. He's also adept at the delayed drop gags, jokes that take just that extra beat to sink in, but are all the more powerful for it.

An hour is still a long time to fill, though, and the show can lull, but the finest moments - such as his moans about muggers, the Big Issue and first-class air travel - are wonderful.

Another risk of this kind of creation is the Alf Garnett effect, of getting laughs for politically-incorrect lines for all the wrong reasons. Jupp uses his own inadequacies and tales of public school humiliation to paint himself as an unsympathetic character, but the irony-free could still see him as a cheerleader. Not that this double appeal has done Al Murray much harm.

At his best, Jupp is a most agreeable young man with a spiffing set, doing something genuinely different within a seemingly familiar character. Superior in both senses of the word.

Review date: 1 Jan 2003
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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