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Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

It’s an insult to every comic who’s poured their heart and soul into their Edinburgh show that this atrocity shares space in the same programme.

Before the festival, the very idea of a Punch and Judy show about about the life of Jimmy Savile prompted the predictable outrage from the press that someone might be trying to make capital out of his decades of abuse. Someone other than the press, that is.

It could have been a provocative show. It could have been a silly show. It could have been a satirical show.

But it should surely at least have been a show.

In fact, this is 20-odd minutes of people disowning responsibility. The performers admit they abandoned the script they never bothered to learn, there are no puppets and they forgot the music. Instead Jimmy Savile meets some cardboard cut-outs, bashes them with his cigar, and literally says: ‘Satire!’

But mainly what they do is say sorry, as well they might. The parts of the show that aren’t given to explaining how little of a shit they give, is directed at me, as the performers urge me not to name them and fret about the write-up they predict they are going to get. They are right. They’ve apparently got some 1* reviews already, and aren’t sure whether to wear it as a badge of honour, or be embarrassed by it. It’s the second one.

Quite how they fill even this mercifully short slot when there’s not a reviewer in, I don’t know. There is literally no script, and the pair can’t improvise, which leave us in a bind. There is, I have to concede, a certain Knockabout fun in the way they try to half-charm, half-apologise their way out of the pickle – and they did get laughs, especially from the trio in the front row. But even then their begging for forgiveness becomes awkward, as they don’t know when to quit. (Clue: it should have been before they started)

It’s a mess entirely of their own making, for having some semblance of an idea is the very least they could do, and they haven’t done that. Which is why I feel it’s right to name-and-shame them as the double-act Ellis and Rose.

They had ensured there’s no official mention anywhere to link them to this – the only wise thing they did. They tell me, from the stage, that their own afternoon show in The Hive is much better than this, and insist that they do want a career in comedy... in which case they ought to know better.

The mess also exposes a flaw in the variant of the free shows model that comedian/promoter Bob Slayer has introduced, in which punters can pay £5 to guarantee a seat rather than risking just showing up in the hope of getting a free seat. If they weren’t charging, you might dismiss this as harmless fun, nothing lost. But a couple of the audience tonight had stumped up for a show, when what was offered was truly worthless.

Review date: 11 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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