The duo are back, emanating warm currents of guff including ‘Britain’s only gay man’ Graham Lister and his pet owl, Beaky
It came back. Almost the same title and the same two friends doing the same daft things they have always done – Bob fully committed, Vic with just the very faintest trace of self-consciousness – and the same general sense that the whole thing may be sponsored by the Campaign for Stopping Americans Ever Immigrating Here En Masse Or at Least Settling in Properly If They Do.
Such differences as there are – a shared desk, an opening rather than closing song, some pre-recorded sketches – are drawn mostly from the duo’s other shows, The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer and Bang, Bang, It’s Reeves and Mortimer. But the basic vibe of Vic & Bob’s Big Night Out (BBC Two, shown on BBC Four last week) is the same as it always was, and you are as free to collapse in hysterics or to walk away utterly baffled by unintelligible nonsense as you ever were.
After the song (“Eat your boiled potatoes! Eat your Curly Wurly!”) the boys settled down for some chat – “How high’s your cat?”, “How many teeth have you got? Today?”, “Have you ever thrown up at a disciplinary hearing?”. As Reeves and Mortimerian tradition dictates, if it adhered to any logic at all, it was only ever internal and for a single exchange (“How do you prep your turkeys for Christmas?” “We just tell them straight out they’re gonna die”) before being immediately subsumed in the foamy waves of something even dafter – in this case, some dancing that I am not even going to attempt to describe. There was a frying-pan fight, too.
After an ad break – in which the pair played Norfolk farmers selling “secret soil” in small polymer bags (“Hide it in your house or about yourself!” “Only you know where the soil is hidden”) and later, a companion product “throwing mud” – we met “Tom Cruise the actor”, a large English man who looks possibly less like Tom Cruise than any other human being in the world, who interrupted them endlessly to talk them through his latest stunt, before giving them a pound each for sweets and heading off. But the sweets had to wait, as the pair had a tin of corned beef to get through first, backed by a sultry soundtrack.
After a brief diversion into Hollywood esoterica courtesy of the wildly wigged Keep on Truckin’ Sandwich Club (“Do you know Eric Clapton? Well he climbed up the chimney in the orphanage near me to make a dramatic entrance for the the kids at Christmas. But he got there too soon, it was June” and “George Clooney was born with a cockatoo crest – I cut it off with a pair of scissors I got in the Navy”) and the things they have sold to Chris Evans on eBay (he snapped up a bag of zips for £29,000, and a bag of Saxon nick nacks for £58,000) it was off to … Novelty Island! And who should turn up to perform the first act but Graham Lister, “Britain’s only gay man”! It was good to see him again. He remains disgusted by Reeves’ dandyism – “parading around like a chaffinch with his tackle out” – and brings us Beaky the Owl, who urinates into a milk bottle on the command “Shakira!”. He is followed by George Meat Market – “Here to raise awareness of a condition he thinks he might have”, and Bill Decker, a murderer, previously seen performing as George Michael on the duo’s version of Stars in Their Eyes. I was hit by a pervading sense that this might be the closest I am ever going to come to feeling young again. There is only one way to enjoy Vic and Bob and that is in the moment, like a child.
You can try to analyse what they do, of course – and you can play quite a good game of adjectival bingo with their reviews; surreal, absurd, Dadaist, Milliganesque, vaudevillian for a full house, a mention of Eric Morecambe for extra credit – but more than with any other comedian or comic duo or group I can think of, that is to kill the butterfly in order to pin it to the card and label its dead parts. Better just to marvel as it takes flight, born on the warm currents of guff emanating from two friends who still just make each other laugh and are glad to have others along for the ride.
Pass the fat, Davey, and roll on next week’s ball of daft.