Tony Carter: Benefit Fraudster

Note: This review is from 2005

Review by Steve Bennett

Once was a time when comics had to create images only with the power of their words. In this digital age, there’s no such restriction, with every audio-visual device employed to illustrate shows.

Sometimes it’s an effective device, sometimes a desperate prop. And for Tony Carter, it’s definitely the latter, as we end up most our time watching clips he’s found or listening to tracks on his MP3 player.

There’s sometimes a vague idea behind it, such as considering how soundtracks can affect our perception, putting jaunty circus music behind air crashes, for example, but too much of it has the feel of a lazy TV clips show. At one point, he even leaves the stage for a few minutes, saying it’s an ‘interval’ no one takes advantage of - leaving us all gaping at a picture of a monkey blinking in time to a Cliff Richard track.

What makes it all the more bizarre is that Carter was once a comic character – the brainchild of Will Andrews who had created him as the first ‘New Deal’ comic. A chav ahead of his time, brought to life at a time when they were still called Neds and adeptly avoiding most the clichés of the stereotype.

Yet now he’s presenting a show that could have been done by anyone, with whatever comic voice he once had diluted to insignificance.

The first ten minutes of the show are unencumbered by the over-reliance on AV, presented as straightforward stand-up. But even this isn’t great.

He has such a bad mic technique - holding it too close and shouting too loud, especially for such a small room that barely demands amplification -  that he is physically difficult to listen to. The nervy laughter that is, presumably, part of the act quickly becomes tiring, too, as does his manic, wired manner.

This material is a poor man’s Ross Noble, the shared Geordie accent only making the comparison even more inevitable. He rambles on at tangents, but it seems too scripted, without the genuine spontaneity of his soundalike.

There are still a few lines, asides and quirks to suggest Carter has potential, but the fact he’s not capitalised on it in the past 12 months can only be a disappointment.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2005
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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