Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Secret Policeman's Other Ball (1982) - Julien Temple

Badly dated now, but cool as fuck at the time, this is the fourth Amnesty knees up charity event. Far better than the last one which was plain woeful, this one trots out most of the usual bods and a few for the time fresh faces. Alexi Sayle doing his vinegar lipped sweary stand up is pretty decent, as is a pre peodo outing Chris Langham. The revue style comedy of the old guard seems dated when placed next to the newer louder courser comedians. Cleese was already well into his unfunny period which sadly he never returned from. Best of the oldies is the ever brilliant Alan Bennett, he's actually the best thing about the whole show. Not a huge surprise I guess, but his routine is almost like research for his screenplay for Prick Up Your Ears. Best of the new crowd is Victoria Wood, looking like Dobby from Peep Show, but with the lyrical prowess of someone who would go on to influence Morrissey.

But it's not all comedy, as with the other shows there is music too, well in a sense. Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck stodge about on stage, trading 'licks' and Clappers gives it some with his reedy little voice. Awful stuff. Although watching Beck you can clearly see how much of an influence he was on Nigel Tufnel. As for the other 'music' inflicted upon the poor sods in the audience that night, well you had Phil Collins plonking his way through In the Air Tonight, like a man who's thinking about what to do when he gets home. Sting is the star of the show getting three songs, two totally solo which only highlight just how poor a lyricist he is, and one 'gather round all the people who've been in the show it's the grand finale, and I'm going to murder I Shall be Released', type of affair. Which he does with a certain amount of style, if cod reggae is the style in question. Surprisingly it's a long past his sell by date Donovan who is my favourite singer of the night. He arrives to a heckle of 'I thought you were dead', which he brushes aside before launching into a sublime version of Catch the Wind, accompanied by Danny Thompson on double bass.

Is this worth watching? Well probably not, it's that bad but it's not that great either. There is a real sense of Cleese and Palin being out of touch compared to the newer more political comedians. The music feels like a warm up for the horror that was Live Aid, Geldof even pops up to act his little socks off for I Don't Like Mondays. Look carefully at the end and you'll even spot Midge Ure's pointy sideburns in that 'grand' finale. Urgh.

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