Thomas Green: That'll Teach You | Review by Paul Fleckney
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Thomas Green: That'll Teach You

Note: This review is from 2016

Review by Paul Fleckney

Virtual reality is on its way, we’re told, but I think it’s already here, because in the attic in the Counting House a comedy show is taking place that’s so generic it can only be computer-generated. Thomas Green’s That’ll Teach You is getting bums on seats and making people laugh, but it’s hackier than Vinnie Jones in his heyday.

The show is a litany of stock comic tropes and tired stereotypes. He informs us that Glaswegians are scary, and has successfully identified Aberdeen as somewhere you can go 'baa' about. His home town (which is Nottingham, not that that matters) is the place where evolution has stopped. Women are emotional, men are simpletons.

Routines are flagged up as being 'the weirdest thing anyone’s ever said to me', or 'the weirdest heckle I’ve ever got' – reported speech being about the easiest form of comedy, and those sorts of routine make up a huge chunk of the show. Stories that rely on being true to be funny end with the cheap get-out of him being headbutted by a member of his close family. Just to top it off there’s some casual racism in there about one of his pupils. I reckon anyone who has been to more than two comedy shows in their life will be bored.

To some extent I can see why Green – a teacher who moved to the UK from Adelaide – gets laughs. He is good at the sell. He has a way with telling a story and is a slick, pacey performer. His style is immediately accessible, even if there’s nothing distinctive about it, so getting a show up and running is no problem to him. It’s the content that’s the problem.

His job as a schoolteacher is a recurring theme, and his story about absent-mindedly insulting one of his pupils does have a good payoff. Another school story takes a long journey for a punchline that requires a very specific bit of film knowledge to understand (which is perhaps why he explains it afterwards). The blurb for the show says: 'Life has many lessons, and sometimes the teacher becomes the student' – a total mis-sell, as it suggests there’s some level of thought and investigation to the show that’s in fact entirely absent.

The final routine, at a squint, could have been interesting, as it’s about the differences between movie expectations of what men and women should be – not completely original, but a juicy enough subject to explore once more, certainly.

It gets about as far as saying that women look better in films when they wake up in the morning, before it turns into a story about men being forced out to buy milk in the morning, which relies entirely on the idea that women are psychos and men are stupid. There will always be a market for 'men v women' material, but it doesn’t have to be this predictable and superficial.

So, a couple of stars for style, but zero for substance.

Review date: 16 Aug 2016
Reviewed by: Paul Fleckney
Reviewed at: Laughing Horse @ The Counting House

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