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Charlie Baker: The World's Greatest Show-Off- Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Jay Richardson

One of the brightest stars in the showbiz firmament, at least by his own reckoning, Charlie Baker’s Fringe debut is big, brash and oozes the confidence of an established entertainer. Sadly, there’s a tremendous gulf between the West Country native’s assurance and his comic abilities. In this all-singing, all-dancing hour, force of personality rather than material, drives the crowd like reluctant cows to market, and perhaps beyond.

He begins by introducing his sponsor, Devon Flag, a merchandise website for the county that he keeps returning to without seeking much in the way of comedy, so I’m inclined to believe it might be a genuine endorsement.

Thereafter, he reels off a couple of self-confessedly old jokes, has the audience impersonate South African choral legends Ladysmith Black Mambazo section by section, for no discernible reason, before crooning a selection of easy listening standards, the lyrics modified to include references to agricultural machinery. And more charmlessly, just swearing.

He has a winning routine about the only three dance steps you need for am dram musicals but pedestrian observational material about Sky TV and driving behind a hearse. An anecdote about encountering Roland Gift on a train finds your sympathies entirely with the former Fine Young Cannibals frontman. Most inexplicably of all, Baker then appoints volunteers from the audience to recreate a cattle auction, a drawn-out exercise which yields a noisy scene but little in the way of laughter.

Throughout all this, his grinning cheer and perhaps his lingering resemblance to Jack Black afford Baker greater credit than he deserves and it’s hard not to warm a little to his puppyish desire to please.

Suddenly stripping down to a leotard, he promises ‘five big finishes in a row!’" and proceeds to belt through closing lines from the likes of That’s Life and The Wonder of You, revealing a highly impressive set of pipes, which steal the admiration his comedy failed to muster.

Review date: 25 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson

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