Sunday, 30 January 2011

Punt And Dennis: They Should Get Out More

The Other Half took me to see this in York on Friday night as part of my birthday present.  I think we were a little nervous in case it turned out to be shit.  You don't want to go to all that work and expense just to find out two comedians your boyfriend loved when he was a teenager don't still impress him now he's turned 31. I was scared for similar reasons; concerned as I was that I would hate it and have to try to hide as much of my disgust as possible.

I mention this as scene-setting: I wasn't exactly in a relaxed "ready to laugh" mood.  Despite this, though, I really enjoyed myself.  Punt and Dennis aren't liable to offer up any curve-balls at this point -  there wasn't any joke there that couldn't have been written in the mid '90s with a few name changes - but then so long as the material itself doesn't seem dated, I don't see any necessity in complaining.

Judged by that standard, both halves hold themselves together very well.  Perhaps the show is a bit front-loaded (I definitely found my interest flagging a little roughly halfway through the post-intermission material), and it was a shame they finished the show with material that I suspect was taken almost unaltered from their '90s TV show.  Having said that, I say "suspect" because it's been so long that I can no longer remember specifics, so maybe it's time the material got a fresh airing in any case.

Such niggles aside, then, my only real issue with the performance was in its structure.  Hugh Dennis must have delivered something like 90% of the punchlines, jumping off from Steve Punt's build-up.  Indeed, most of the punchlines that Punt offered took place during the periods of time Dennis was off-stage, which happened several times during the show, along with similar periods of Puntlessness, which alternated with the Dennis droughts so precisely that one wonders whether it was written into a contract somewhere.

Throughout the show Dennis was gregarious, and Punt apparently somewhat nervous.  Doubtless this is in some sense determined by the persona each has developed in order to maintain a successful double act, but I'm sure I remember the Punt of yesteryear (yestermillenia?) being more punchy, and an overall tactic of alternating jokes, rather than predominantly reducing one comedian to little more than a straight man.  As one audience member observed during the interval, "It's all turning into 'The Hugh Dennis Show', isn't it?"

Even Punt himself seemed less than thrilled by this.  The Other Half and I both independently sensed some frustration at Dennis' tendency to go off-script.  Not that it didn't work, or didn't make me laugh, but it's difficult to laugh when you sense something like that - particularly when the promotional material might as well have said "See Hugh Dennis from Mock The Week, Outnumbered, and The Now Show, and Steve Punt, who sometimes is with him!"

Still.  Maybe I'm projecting.  I always thought Punt was the funnier of the two in any case, and I've always thought it a shame Dennis seems to get far more work.  It's also possible that my surprise at their current style reflects a lack of experience with The Now Show, which I am ashamed to admit I don't listen to nearly as often as I should.  In any case, anyone with a spare night to fill could do worse than seeking this show out.


Tomsk said...

Poor old Punt. Perhaps they could allow him on as a guest on Fast and Loose...

SpaceSquid said...

It also seems that as time goes on he and Milton Jones are becoming physically indistinguishable.