Live at the Electric review – Episode One (Series 2) – BBC3

Live at the ElectricLive at the Electric is a sketch show filmed in front of a live audience, and presented by Russell Kane, one of what Stewart Lee hilariously called the ‘Russell comedians.’ Kane is a preening, twatish-looking figure fond of flouncing mannerism and the same vocal inflections as Russell Brand. He has received a lot of critical praise and has won a number of awards but I’ve never really liked the guy. There are little bits of intelligence and insight in his work but I struggle to see what about him has generated so much admiration.

Kane opened the show this week with some pretty straightforward stuff about older children picking on their siblings. You can find content just as funny at your nearest Jongleurs on any random night. The first sketch of the show was poor, lacking in any jokes or interesting set-up and with some dodgy comic performances – one guy seemed to be doing an impression of Matt Berry. This was followed by a much better character piece that had a pretty funny exploration of the ‘69’ position and which built into a list of increasingly absurd sexual positions based on numbers.

Live at the Electric bills itself as a showcase for new comedic talent and I guess it does have worth for that reason. It does, though, seem to lean heavily on certain kind of slightly off-kilter acts that eschew traditional jokes. Paul Currie for instance, performing a bit here with a puppet, appears to be doing something original, but, really, his act wouldn’t be out of place on Britain’s Got Talent or a 1970s talk show (to be fair, this is presumably just a tiny bit of his act).

There was also this episode another purposefully weird bit – from Joe Wilkinson and Dianne Morgan – which was decent in places, a pretty awful Shakespeare parody of The Only Way is Essex, and a terrible Twilight parody that didn’t come anywhere close to accurately sending up the actors being portrayed in the sketch. Also splitting up the show were some backstage scripted segments that were poor throughout but at least built to a half-decent punchline at the show’s conclusion.

I guess we shouldn’t really expect too much of a show like this. It’s not supposed to be groundbreaking; it’s just BBC Three light-entertainment, with a reasonably admirable goal of giving attention and TV time to some little known comedians. But that doesn’t excuse it being so poor in places, overusing juvenile humour and performing it in a way as if it is something other than lazy and rote. It’s just not very good, Live at the Electric, but it’s probably worth tuning in now and again to see if there are any good acts on it.

Choice lines:

  • ‘As a finale, can we put a crossbow up, and then spin it? There’s your big finish.’
  • ‘A man attempting to fuck an angry cobra. It’s quite an advanced move.’

3 thoughts on “Live at the Electric review – Episode One (Series 2) – BBC3

  1. I had a job recognising Russell Kane in his latest incarnation because I haven’t seen hide nor hair of him since the launch of the Five US channel, many moons ago now, when the gaps between Steven Seagal movies were inexplicably filled by 90-second featurettes in which a 14-year-old Russell Kane, with floppy hair (rather than his current There’s Something About Mary look) and an unexceptionable T-shirt, dipped his Converse One Star-shod toe into quainter aspects of American life: going to a shooting range is the only one I remember, though I imagine he peed on the gateposts of other Stateside institutions – rodeo riding, weddings in Vegas, a New York cab ride – while he was about it. God knows what he’s been doing all these years: not working on new material, that’s for sure.

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