Norwich has treated Alan Partridge well this year. After all, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, in which Alan is employed as a DJ/hostage negotiator at “North Norfolk Digital” in Norwich serving up “North Norfolk’s best music mix,” hit #1 on the U.K. box office charts in August. The once disgraced TV presenter has become a respected member of Norwich, even something of a pillar of local life.
A couple of weeks ago Alan Partridge materialized in a town square in Norwich (“Norridge” to “Americans”) and returned the favor by presenting the hardy Norwich citizenry with a yuletide light-show spectacular they’ll probably never forget. Slayer X-mas lights house, you got nuthin’ on the Alpha Papa…
The lips of Partridge’s eerie laser visage stiffly sort-of, kind-of, did-n’t sync hardly at all to the thumping, exultant strains of Roachford’s “Cuddly Toy” as green laser beams emanated from Partridge’s eerie, dead eyes. (The visage was appropriately festooned with reindeer and snowflakes and summat.) The townspeople present half-heartedly attempted that V for Vendetta thing where everyone is wearing an identical Alan Partridge mask but you know, it’s bloody cold and we’re havin’ a right good time and we’re busy watchin’ Laser Partridge up there sing “Cuddly Toy,” innit?
Finally! This audio sketch originally appeared as a hidden bonus on the DVD release of The Day Today in 2004, and I have been waiting ever since for someone to upload it to the internet. Now you can hear two titans of British comedy riffing on conspiracy theories, assassinations, Russian spies and trade unions in their own particular love/hate (mostly hate) style. This sounds totally unscripted, which makes it even better. And this Partridge guy really knows his stuff, Alex Jones should get him on as a guest.
Chris Morris & Alan Partridge talk conspiracies:
This is the other Easter egg from The Day Today DVD - Chris Morris speaking to Peter O’Hanrahanrahan live from the World Trade Center on September 11th 2001.
The Day Today - 9/11
You can buy the complete The Day Today on DVD here.
“What do you call brunch and lunch, when they’re combined?”
I’ll admit to having a bit of a love/hate relationship with Steve Coogan. Of course, he’s an brilliant comic talent, don’t get me wrong, but Coogan’s hit to miss ratio is so bad that many lesser talents never would have gotten the second, third, forth, fifth, etc, chances that he’s had, career-wise. When Steve Coogan is great, like, say, whenever he plays Alan Partridge, in 24 Hour Party People or in the first series of Saxondale, he’s truly great. But when he’s doing almost anything else, it’s probably more likely to be shit than not (For instance, his current Michael Winterbottom-directed series, The Trip: sans the always likable presence of Rob Bryden and the beauty of the English countryside, well, that show would totally and utterly unwatchable.)
But I do come here to praise Steve Coogan, really, I do, because he’s returned once again to the character that’s brought him his greatest comedy success, inept talkshow host Alan Partridge, for a new web series and the results, as expected, are solid. And very, very funny. Fans of Alan Partridge you will not be disappointed, I can assure you. If the first two episodes are anything to go by, the standards are up to the original series.
The thirteen 11-minute shorts were written by Coogan and his long-time collaborator Armando Iannucci, along with Rob and Neil Gibbons. Alan Partridge’s career is now even further in the dumper. He hosts a radio show called Mid-Morning Matters on North Norfolk Digital (“Music and chat for the North Norfolk generation”). Alan’s co-host, Sidekick Simon is played by Tim Key, winner of the Edinburgh Comedy award in 2009.
The unforced podcast-conceit (the viewers see what someone tuning into the fictional radio station’s webcam would find) lends a seemingly improvisational looseness to the material, which Mid-Morning Matters with Alan Partridge uses to its full advantage. Truly this production also doesn’t feel like “low budget” Alan Partridge, it just feels like we’ve got Coogan firing creatively with all pistons once again. Put this man in a cardigan sweater and he’s a comic genius. Driving around LA in a sports car in a romcom with Rebecca Romijn, not so good. The key to a great Coogan performance seems to lie in the fact that he’s very good at playing comically repellent characters—he’s got anti-charisma down pat—but when he’s actually trying to be charming, he falls desperately flat. Awkward and inept he does well, but a Hollywood leading man, he will never be, Coogan’s best when working with his prodigious talents, not against them. Aha!
The Mid-Morning Matters with Alan Partridge web series is produced by Foster’s and can be viewed at Foster’s Funny.com, but the material isn’t licensed for American audiences, so look for it posted on Daily Motion, YouTube and elsewhere.