Reviewer: Craig Unadkat
This powerhouse trio have enjoyed a long run at the top of their game, with the hit panel-show Would I Lie To You? running for 12 seasons amounting to a whopping 112 episodes. Each household names in their own right, one would expect big things from these kings of comedy. Sadly, to this degree, they did not deliver.
This show is a tale of two halves. It begins with Rob Brydon coming out alone and performing a few minutes solo before introducing the other two comedians. The material in this small segment is fine, but the delivery leaves something to be desired; what should be punchy lines are left so long that the audience already know what’s going to be said before he says it. Then David Mitchell and Lee Mack enter the stage and this is where things really take a turn.
If you’re unfamiliar with Would I Lie To You? then here’s a very quick rundown of how they play their TV personas. Lee Mack is portrayed as the fool, David Mitchell a genius and Rob Brydon the advocate between them, as arguments inevitably ensue. What they’ve done for Brydon, Mack and Mitchell is simply copy these personas and pretend that they’re real. Unfortunately, these are but pale imitations; the magic of editing perhaps playing a crucial role in their TV success. The vast majority of what they do that isn’t improvised is take digs at each other and act like they’re offended. This prepared material is so obviously contrived that it ends up being painfully unfunny.
In this first half, formatted as a rather lacklustre quiz show, the only watchable aspect of the performance is Lee Mack and his ability to on-the-spot improvise against an audience member. His hilarious quips and vivacious energy lift the performance up and keep the audience on their toes. After a 12 show stint, it’s likely that they realised the positive effect Mack has as this is heavily leaned on throughout this section. The issue here is that it begins to feel like the Lee Mack show with a smattering of staged “humour”. There’s also something about watching three middle-aged men in a ‘gentleman’s club’, a location so pridefully explained by Brydon, that adds to the somewhat regressive atmosphere of the show.
The second half, thankfully, is a vast improvement on the first. A new format to the show is adapted and dilemmas that the audience pose to the trio are solved by them one after the other. The unpredictable nature of this exercise is what makes this such a successful segment. The audience member that poses the question is given a microphone and a conversation transpires between the comedians and the individual. This the genesis of genuine laughter within this show. It’s easy to imagine this idea being taken forward to TV and, with the safety net of editing being able to fine-tune the performance, being rather successful.
Each comedian has moments throughout the show that serves as a reminder of their impressive talents; As aforementioned Lee Mack’s upholding of the show as a whole. Rob Brydon’s impressions are, for the most part, hilarious. David Mitchell’s solving of each dilemma, one in particular with hard, unforgiving logic is a particular highlight. It’s just a shame that these were only glimpses of brilliance in an otherwise insipid performance.
Reviewed on 2 October 2019 | Image: Contributed