After a week of…well, employment, we’ve returned with more unstoppable Series 4 episodes! This one features that imitable duo of Sweeney and Steen, plus Tony Slattery and Paul Merton. This is the kind of lineup you could kill for, and one we’d get again exactly one season later.
Emotion Option: Jim and Steve (policeman interrogating suspect)
Audience member: “CONSTIPATED!”
Clive: “…was that a suggestion or a cry for help?”
Jim starts out by making fun of Steve’s slight speech impediment on ‘chwime’, which definitely owes itself to how comfortable the two are barbing each other.
Jim: “…I wish I could talk like you…I think it’s really BWILLIANT…”
The amount of insane faces made by both parties during ‘constipated’ cracks me up.
And we end on ecstacy
Steve: “Oh, let me just take off all my clooothes…”
Jim: “…OH, BWILLIANT!”
Very quick scene, but still quite funny.
Film and Theatre Styles: Tony and Paul (barman and anguished patron)
Clive, hearing the audience: “…John Sessions one-man-show-OH, THAT’S *EVERY* STYLE…”
After a suggestion of Noel Coward, someone else goes ‘NOEL EDMUNDS!’
Clive: “…the word is ‘style’ we’re looking for here…”
Tony starts this scene…well, as Tony. He does the motion of pulling down a beer handle, repeatedly…then stops, and goes “oh, I’ll just put the cat down…”
AND WE’RE OFF TO A ROUSING START!
To befit Tony’s insane choice, Paul puts down a cactus, and takes a bazooka out of his pocket, as if to try and out-weird Tony.
Paul, sotto voce: “……i don’t want to dooo ittt…”
Tony: “You know a song about Baby Jeezuu, don’t you?”
Paul: “I do- do I? OH YES, I DO…”
Tony, backing up, giving Paul what he’s won: “OFF YOU GO, THEN…”
Clive: “One man show.”
Paul, to Tony: “GET OFF.”
As Paul’s trying to keep the scene going, Clive buzzes in with another style…
Paul: “I haven’t even gotten anything going…ya slaphead!”
The whole audience, AND JIM, applaud this.
Clive: “…I’m sad to announce the untimely death of Paul Merton…by my hands…”
Paul: “I lasted longer than your hair did, though…”
Tony: “HERE COMES THE REAL BARMAN! I’M ONLY STANDIN’ IN!”
Paul: “oh, standin’ in what?”
Paul: “OH, LOOK IT’S A VICAR…WHAT’S HE DOING IN THAT HORSE?”
That was WILD. The improv wasn’t the focus, but this was absolutely hysterical, with Paul breaking the fourth wall once or twice, and working really well to outsmart Tony (though Tony had him on the ropes).
Letter Changes: Barbeque
Jim: B with F
Steve: S with T
They wouldn’t play this game regularly until the late US era, and here it’s a differently structured game.
Jim, realizing the possibilities of replacing b with f:
Jim and Steve do master this scene though, perhaps Steve more than Jim, with Steve finding some nice possibilities like it comes naturally to him.
Jim: “Have a slice of fread and futter?”
Steve: “Futter, no. Makes me thit.”
The scene stays funny throughout, ending with Jim going “…what a fastard!”
Very nice one, with enough good work to surpass the silly premise.
Film Dub: Tony and Paul: chat up
The back-and-forth here is to be beheld, with lines going back insanely fast, and really funny ones at that, mostly just Paul and Tony reacting to the set and scene.
Tony, after the characters kiss: “….have you been eating cabbage?”
Very fun, quaint game.
March: traffic jams
Clive describes this perfectly as “a game that’s very, very popular with everybody, apart from those who have to play it.”
Paul, from the getgo, loathes this game, and has to start again nearly through his verse.
There’s something so great about his revised verse, and how he puts on a fake grin as he does it:
“I drive along the motorway, I’m looking everywhere.
and I drive along WITH SUCH a HAP-py EA-sy GO-ing AIR!”
Plus, with a violent and funny last verse, Tony supplies the SECOND Noel Edmunds slam of the night.
Pretty cathartic march, with nothing truly bad, and some funny lines. They’re starting to get the hang of what can be done with these types of games.
Props: Jim and Paul vs. Tony and Steve
Steve: “No, that’s great, doc…can you do another one like it?”
Steve: “Yes, I’m here as part of the Clive Anderson appreciation society as well…”
Jim looks at the prop, srtetches it…realizes he can’t do a goddamned thing with it, and shrugs. Clive, at that, ends the round.
Very funny round of props, though.
Clive: “Don’t worry, Paul, because you still managed to win that game, by not making any jokes about me during your uses of props…”
Paul: “I didn’t make ANY jokes, though…”
Courtroom Scene: stolen lego bricks
Steve and Tony: witnesses
Paul, after blankly stating the supposed crime, almost verbatim from Clive
Jim: “…whoopy-doopy, I can barely wait. Carry on.”
On Paul’s first witness, Boppo the Clown, Jim cracks up a bit when Paul announces it, and when Tony bounds onstage like this:
Tony dances around, drops his hat, does some incredibly goofy movements, and goes back to this stance, sort of like a Bobby Moynihan character on SNL.
Paul, after a beat: “…..no further questions, my lord…”
After a compelling statement from Steve as I. Claudius
Paul: “..what is the objection?”
Jim: “No idea- CARRY ON.”
Tony enters as Sissy Fairbanks, crosses to Paul and goes “you left your underpants in the kitchen…”
Paul: “…I would like to take this witness home and roger him.”
Quicker than last playing, but still pretty funny.
Helping Hands: Paul buys things in a shop from cashier Jim (ft. Steve’s hands)
This is a short, spry game, with an ironed-on set-up and formula (paul hands Jim foods, Jim either weighs or eats them). This is the first time in Helping Hands where someone shoves food in their mouth (it will become a staple of the US version).
Steve shoves half a banana into Jim’s mouth…then Paul shoves the other half in…then, looking back at the cart, goes “these mushrooms look nice, don’t they?”
There’s a struggle between Jim and Paul as to whether or not Paul will shove the mushroom into Jim’s mouth- Jim protests, but Paul eventually goes ahead with it.
that’s essentially the rest of the scene- Paul seeing something on the cart, Jim saying no with his mouth full, and Paul throwing it in his mouth anyway. I’d be lying if I said this didn’t amuse the shit out of me.
Of course, the scene ends with Paul going: “…oh, this is a nice cash register”, and Jim throwing up his arms in protest.
This succeeded far more than I was expecting, once Paul took the reins and started throwing the entire cart into Jim’s mouth. It wasn’t a great Helping Hands scene, but it was truly funny.
Party Quirks: Paul hosts
Steve: Thinks he’s mucking out stables
Jim:railway station announcer
Tony: thinks he’s King Arthur
Steve: “Oooh, you’ve got a lot under ‘ere, haven’t ya? I’m surprised the neighbours couldn’t smell that…”
Jim immediately nails the inaudible nature of his quirk, which gives him early applause from the audience.
There’s a nice amount of time where Jim, Steve and Paul interact with each other as Paul’s trying to guess. There’s some great stuff in the dynamics, too.
Tony, upon entry: “…oblong table, can’t have that, I’ll knock the edges off…”
Tony, after some great physical work, gives what may be one of the worst puns in Whose Line history: “This is, uh…this is a very old, and defunct can of non-caliber beer…it’s…it’s EX-CALIBER.”
The audience: [GROANS]
Paul: “Oh, yes, uh, you’re King Arthur.”
Really nice game, with good performances all around.
Scenes from a Hat: all four
Clive: “Party in a goldfish bowl”
Steve, circling around Jim and Paul: “Haven’t I seen you two somewhere before?”
Paul: “I dunno, I can’t remember…”
Clive: “Message in a bottle.”
Tony, doing the more obvious joke, pulling the message out:”…STING’S CRAP!”
The Prison Nativity Play is great, because Jim’s just head-butting everyone onstage, even Steve, as he goes “DON’T YOU START, MARY!”
Clive: “A cartload of monkeys”
Tony, again taking the obvious joke: “DAYDREEEAM BELIEVER…”
Clive: “Blind Date”
Paul, walks into Tony: “Sorry…”
Clive: “Why don’t we end on ‘beetles making love on a leaf’
Paul, going for the gold medal: “…I’ve always liked you, Ringo…”
A good playing, though the obvious reference was definitely in mind on many of the scenes.
Overall: Step back from the first two shows, but still a very funny show, with four guys in peak condition, and a lot of great games. I’m putting it lower than the first two shows because there were less standout moments, and a few more lull-games than them. There’s still stuff like Helping Hands, Party Quirks and Film and Theatre Styles that really worked, but a lot of games were either too short or not consistently memorable. This show also completed Paul Merton’s S4 renaissance, as he’d only appear in one more show after this one, and he was insanely strong here, just as strong as last show. There weren’t many weak links in the show, though- Steve did well in games like Change Letter and Props, Tony had some great slams throughout the night, and Jim was his usual, energetic self.
Show Winner: Steve
Best Performer: Paul, for his second strong show in a row.
Worst Performer: Steve, only for having less masterful moments throughout
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles, just for being insanely funny all throughout.
Worst Game: Film Dub, for having the least to it.