Charlie Baker: Baker's Dozen | Review by Hilary Wardle
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Charlie Baker: Baker's Dozen

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Hilary Wardle

Jack Black lookalike Charlie Baker’s show has the potential to be very, very bad indeed. Why? Because it’s a retrospective in which he sings the best-selling number ones from every year between 2000 and 2012.

If you’re thinking ‘well, that doesn’t sound too terrible’, remember those years are not exactly the most auspicious in musical history, thanks offerings suhc as Bob The Builder: Can You Fix It, Shaggy’s It Wasn’t Me and Peter Kay reviving Is This The Way To Amarillo.

Luckily for the audience, Baker has a gift for taking that sort of garbage and giving it a fun, genre changing spin. It Wasn’t Me becomes a crooned French ballad and Amarillo is transformed from a tacky, air-punching pub karaoke classic to a smooth number that wouldn’t be out of place on an Adele B-side. In fact, it’s all quite reminiscent of comedy lounge singer Richard Cheese who takes expletive-ridden raps and heavy metal hits and transforms them into easy-listening, finger clicking jazz numbers that entirely (and hilariously) subvert the original material.

Baker intersperses the music with miscellaneous jokes, audience banter and slow sections where he chats to the other people on stage. One of these people is the hapless Tom, a sort of mascot who Charlie dresses in various costumes throughout the evening, the most memorable of which is a giant, inflatable cock and balls.

It’s all a bit strange, and would work a lot better if Baker used the intervening sections to make jokes about the music industry and possibly the undiluted horror of manufactured music. But instead, the song-free bits cover such varied topics as sex etiquette (namely: don’t put your penis in people’s eyes), Baker’s dieting efforts and an audience participation quiz show entitled ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’.

Ok, to be fair that last one is a) funny and b) ties in with the song theme very nicely, but on the whole Baker’s Dozen feels like two separate shows that have been welded together. Luckily, they’re both quite good, but it would be nice if the ’13 No 1s’ theme had tied in better with the working men’s club-esque sections in between. Having said that, you can’t deny the sheer guilty pleasure of some of the songs: in fact, most of them are almost certainly playing in working men’s clubs as we speak.

Was the point of the show to recreate an evening at Bolton’s iconic Phoenix Club? If so, Charlie did a very good job. If not, well, we got to hear his impressive vocal range and also watch a man dressed as a giant penis prod another man in the eye, so that was worth the admission price.

Review date: 19 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Hilary Wardle

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