Jim Bowen – Original Review

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Jim Bowen’s set these days is less stand-up than an after dinner speech, which is probably where he finds most of his work, reminiscing about past glory days. It’s a canny reinvention – they’re not just old jokes any more, it’s nostalgia. And by recounting well-known anecdotes about the likes of Tommy Cooper, Bowen subconsciously tries to place himself in the same bracket.

He’s not. He’s a decent delivery boy for jokes you’ve heard a hundred times before. But there’s really no fun to be had with shaggy-dog stories when you know, line-for-line, how they are going to pan out from the very moment they start.

‘Political correctness didn’t do comedy any good,’ he laments at one point. ‘It made us think about what we wanted to say.’ Yes, what a terrible thing that must have been...

His demeanour is somewhere between grumpy and downright mean-spirited. ‘I’ve never seen a healthy vegetarian,’ he opines. ‘They all fart and have spots.’ And that’s supposed to pass as a joke.

It’s Bullseye that people want to hear about, of course, not his pervious, undistinguished club career. Once he starts talking on the topic, the audience leap in with catchphrases, and Bowen’s downbeat style starts to sparkle as he chuckles along at the memories.

But he rather wastes the momentum, spending most his set on another longwinded and predictable anecdote, based on the rather odd premise that a contestant in a wheelchair wouldn’t have wanted to win the star prize of a three-piece suite. Why ever not?

There’s so much goodwill towards him for this unselfconsciously cheesy quiz show, that he can’t really lose – but you wonder why he bothers talking about anything else.

Review date: 26 Oct 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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