Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Comedy vehicle

To be honest, rather than taking the trouble to review Car Share properly, I could just refer you to Grace Dent's piece for the Independent, which pretty much succinctly sums up my feelings.

As she says, it's become "accepted wisdom" that Peter Kay is the antithesis of cool among the comedy set, in the wake of Max And Paddy's Road To Nowhere and charity single 'Is This The Way To Amarillo?' She could have added the fact that his brand of observational humour has been mercilessly pilloried by many, including comedy guru and tastemaker Stewart Lee, and that he has a reputation within the comedy circuit (and particularly with Daniel Kitson) for being an unpleasant, egomaniacal twat.

However, Dent is also right to point out that, prior to his best writing partners melting away and his ego taking over, Kay was responsible for two very good programmes (That Peter Kay Thing and Phoenix Nights - the first series, at least) and one classic stand-up set (Live At The Top Of The Tower).

A part of me wanted to hate Car Share, just to be confirmed in my prejudices - but I just couldn't. The series suggested that, to his credit, Kay has realised the error of his ways and decided to go back to basics, with a format that was about as simple as they come: man gives female co-worker lifts from home to work and back again. The sit meant the com was always going to be created through the dialogue and interaction between the pair - both slightly lost souls approaching middle age, she actively pining for a relationship and he protesting too much that he didn't want or need one.

After not getting off to the best of starts (Kayleigh spilling a bottle of her own piss on John), the daily commute - suspiciously long for two people who work in a supermarket - gradually brought them closer together, bonding in particular over a mutual love of cheesy commercial radio. In that respect, the show mined the same simple but rich seam of humour as Steve Coogan and company did with the 'Cuddly Toy' scene in Alpha Papa - and as Coogan and Rob Brydon did with their lusty car renditions of Alanis Morissette in The Trip To Italy.

There were some off-colour touches at times (as well as a surprising guest appearance from Reece Shearsmith, playing a socially inept fishmonger), but for the most part it was gentle, subtly heartwarming stuff - so much so that even my parents, hardly devotees of any kind of comedy, became avid viewers.

So has Kay redeemed himself, at least as a comic if not as a human being? Perhaps. Let's wait and see what he does next.

No comments: