Geoff Norcott: Professional Teenager

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett


Geoff Norcott used to be an English teacher, and his on-stage demeanor leaves you feeling that it's a great shame he gave it up for comedy. Not because he's not funny, but because you get the impression he was one of those teachers loved equally by kids and parents.

In a time when teenage chav culture is one of the most popular targets in comics' sights, the theme of Norcott's show is something of a departure, claiming to offer instead a defence of teenagers.

He focuses mainly on two stereotypes: those of the moaning teen, and the tired, lazy sort. These are used as drop of points to allow Norcott to discuss everything from family holidays, catching your parents having sex, Supernanny, and the family Christmas Monopoly game. There are some wonderful pieces in there, including a defence of video games by way of the lesson taught to kids by that most traditional of games, chess: in war, the poor die first.

On this night, the show was made particularly interesting by the presence of an ex-student, her parents, and her possibly-too-young-for-this-sort-of-thing sister. You might expect this Fringe novice to be thrown off, but Norcott handled it with aplomb, his interactions with them adding to the show. In fact, he shows a real knack for improvisation: when asking if anyone had seen Supernanny, one girl replied she'd seen something 'Suppernanny-ish', Norcott quickly made a gag about that being the behind-the-scenes show on E4+1.

Alas the show also has its problems. Norcott's structure is too loose and while you're happy to follow him down his various digressions it's jarring when he suddenly returns to the central theme. You find yourself trying to relate all the things he's said in the last section to the point he's trying to make, before realising the point was made in the first few lines and the rest was simply there as it was funny.

A less forgivable problem is the few bits of old, hack material in the show. The 'I got burgled and was upset, as they rifled through my CDs but none of them were worth stealing' routine isn't made any less dated by having it be a car and not a house that's broken into, and the 'My Dad say's he doesn't mind gays as long as they don't ram it down his throat' line really should be beneath someone as experienced as Norcott.

Professional Teenager is a wonderful show, with Norcott proving himself to be a quick-witted and amiable host, but it's a lack of structure and some over-familiar material that keeps it off the must-see list.

Dean Love


Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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