Natalie Haynes: Still Not Sorry

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

Natalie Haynes paints herself as one of the darker comics around, but it's not entirely convincing given her conversational, middle-class style.

Sure, she's got a gag about the Alder Hay children's organ scandal that pushes the limits of taste, but at least it emerges from a serious point about the media's deification of all victims as infallibly right. But that's not typical either in tone, nor, unfortunately, in content.

Too often, she's just as happy to blether on about her homeopathic treatment, or that Kirsty Walk has the same jumper as her, or about her own hereditary clumsiness, which she calls by its correct medical term, as if to show off her knowledge.

For this former teacher is nothing if not well-read, garnering material from obscure news stories, documentary TV channel or the internet. Just repeating these tales is fascinating, but that's pretty much all she does ­ injecting little in of her own comic take.

She talks at breakneck speed, densely cramming words into her long set-ups, verging on the verbose. But then when there's more interest in the hearing of the background story than there is in the pay-off, dragging them out as much as you can is the only sensible course of action.

The most interesting segment is about claims that the Belgian creator of the Smurfs was a supporter of the Ku Klux Klan, which may or may not be an urban myth. There are a few websites devoted to the subject, and certainly the Smurfs' hats bear more than a passing resemblance the Klan's hooded sheets, while the black Smurf fits the image of the terrifying, untamed savage the extremists like to propagate. But she simply repeats the claims, producing the toys for evidence, with no extra jokes.

Similarly, her dismissal of the ridiculously outlandish Bible Code claims that the text of the testaments contain hidden messages predicting everything from JFK's assassination to the Twin Towers attack follows the very same argument of a documentary that's been made on the subject, right down to finding the same results in Moby Dick.

This finale was agonisingly extended the night Chortle saw it by an bewildered front-row punter pedantically trying to make sense of the explanatory cards; with an Adrift Haynes far more interested in maintaining that painful conversation than bringing the show to a satisfying, entertaining and punctual close.

That was a one-off, but the problem that the show educates far more than it entertains is far more deeply rooted.

Review date: 1 Jan 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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