The Fast Show Live


Reviewed by: Keith Dudhnath

The Fast Show was a fast-paced sketch series that rightly became one of the most popular and acclaimed BBC comedies of the Nineties. It featured new and diverse characters every 30 seconds and a new catchphrase every 15 seconds. The catchphrases quickly became part of everyday speech and, for a brief period in 1995, anyone who didn't say, "Suits you", at least once per sentence, ran the risk of being deported.

At first glance, The Fast Show Live is an attempt to combine the magic of the theatre with the hilarity of the series, bringing the performers closer to their audience. It becomes apparent quite quickly, however, that it is little more than money for the oldest and ropiest of old rope.

No effort has been expended in the transition to live performance. It's simply not possible on stage to emulate the punchy editing that was such a feature of the TV show. The series featured the same actors in sketch after sketch in different costumes, something that clearly can't be done live, which means that sketches have been chosen because of who is in them, rather than whether they fit into the cohesion of the show as a whole. Everyone involved should have taken more time to identify and solve these problems.

With the exceptions of Mark Williams and Simon Day, most of the performances are lazy. This is most apparent when classic sketches are performed, allowing for direct comparison with the television series. Equally lazy are the sketches themselves, which simply regurgitate established catchphrases, without any jokes.

On TV, if you weren't aware of the catchphrases, you would soon pick them up as they were part of the comic design. In the live show, most of the jokes are thinly veiled routes to a catchphrase and thus not as funny as they could be. On a couple of occasions, swearing is resorted to, but not in a big or clever way.

Some of the jokes are cruder than would have been allowed on television. These are some of the funniest, due to the fact that they're new material and part of lengthier sketches that suit live performance better.

For the fan, or the uninitiated, there is little to recommend. It's still The Fast Show, so it's still funny, and you will laugh, but won't want to watch it more than once.

It seems a poor shadow of the television series, that leaves a feeling of being let down. Better to watch the repeats on UK Gold.

Reviewed on: 07 Dec 2002
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The Fast Show Live packshot
smash hit BBC TV comedy series from the Nineties is reproduced on stage
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Director: Roxana Silbert

Writer: Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson, Simon Day, John Thomson, Arabella

Starring: Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson, Simon Day, John Thomson, Arabella

Year: 1998

Runtime: 80 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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