Wednesday, 5 March 2008

A national joke

What made BBC4's 'Rob Brydon's Identity Crisis' watchable wasn't just the way in which the comedian exiled in London for 20 years came to feel his roots so much more strongly for spending some time in the land of his fathers - by the end, any ambivalence about personal identity had been resolved, with Brydon once more a proudly self-confessed Welshman, much to his own surprise.

No, the interest also lay in the programme's exposure of the stand-up's art. Brydon was shown trying to construct a set of material about his home country, "borrowing" the comments of those he encountered where he could and then puzzling over how to pitch it right. At the first of his Welsh gigs, at the Glee Club in Cardiff, he suffered the indignity of a seriously lukewarm reception, but, led to reflect on his generally critical and sneering tone, subsequently modified his approach so as to be warmer, more inclusive and less superior - and in Pontardawe and particularly Aberdare it paid huge dividends.

What's more, in showing Brydon backstage, pacing backwards and forwards uncomfortably and impatiently, the programme also served as a reminder that even well-established and experienced stand-ups can suffer from pre-show nerves. It's a odd compulsion, to willingly choose to put yourself on a pedestal to be judged by a bunch of complete strangers (to paraphrase Stewart Lee), but thankfully there are plenty of people prepared to do it.

(The programme's still available to watch on iPlayer for the next couple of days.)

1 comment:

Lise said...

In this program, there was a lovely acoustic guitar version of "Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau"/"Land of My Fathers", does anyone happen to know who performed it? and/or if it's available anywhere?