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Miranda Hart: My, What I Call Live Show review

| Uncategorized | 25/03/2014

Miranda Hart

Last Wednesday, Miranda Hart returned to the stage to deliver her first stand-up comedy show in eight years. Opening the forty-three date tour in London’s O2 arena, to a sell-out crowd at that, Miranda took to the stage with a powerful presence and some old-school comedy.

Hart explains to the crowd that the show is their very own ‘cocoon o’ fun’, and as an audience member, you do feel a certain connection with her throughout, that you may not at a plain old stand-up comedy gig. Her stories more often than not end in embarrassment, which is something I personally can relate to, as I’m sure many of the (women especially) audience do too. The karaoke/dance inserts motivated the audience throughout, and attain their enthusiasm levels to match the performers. Hart’s conversational techniques make it feel as though she is talking to you one-on-one at times, which is a good thing in such a huge arena.

The disappointing factor will come to those who were expecting a full stand-up comedy routine, as the two hour show does come across as a mixture of stand-up and the sitcom. It never turns into the sitcom in an obvious manner, but Hart’s camera nods and references to the show bring in an element of the popular BBC programme.

To sum the show up, I would call it a shared experience of social awkwardness, which for me was the perfect kind of evening. Fans of Miranda (the woman or the show) will love it, and those who have been dragged along as a plus one may also be in danger of enjoying themselves too. Aside from the odd element of campness (which Hart frequently addressed and is perfectly fine with), Miranda has found the exact balance between cliché and comedic in her performance, and has succeeded in creating a fun show which caters to her fans of all ages.

Speaking about the tour, Miranda explains why she had to get such things off her chesticles;

Q: Why did you want on tour now?

A: I was nervous about going for it but then I thought to myself, come on Hart, do it.  I knew I would always regret it if I didn’t tour and it felt like the right time after the third series of Miranda. So I have taken a deep breath and here we are.

Q: What are you most looking forward to about the tour?

A: It sounds naff, verging on American, but I can’t wait to be in a room with all the people who have supported me over the last few years – watching the sitcom and spreading the word. I want to say thank you by doing a live show for them. It’s not about me fulfilling a career ambition, I hope everyone has a great night out.  Feeling nervous again!

Q: Were you nervous about doing live comedy again?

A: Yes, I was at first because my last show at the Edinburgh Festival was in 2005. But I started doing secret warm-up gigs in the summer last year, and luckily they went well. After the third gig, it felt like it was the hundredth, and I began to feel comfortable on stage doing stand-up again.

Q: What subjects will you be covering in the show?

A: They will obviously involve hilarity of all varieties! I hope audiences will recognise some of the themes from the sitcom.  I will be continuing to examine universal social embarrassment and general life conundra – that sounds like a geography term like tundra, doesn’t it?  I did Geography A Level.  I thank you.  I’ll also be telling some life anecdotes that I have yet shared.  And stand-up gives you the chance to have some ranting moments you can’t do in a sitcom – so I will be getting the odd thing off my chesticles like my irritation with diets and attitude to food.

Q: Is there an overarching message?

A: I suppose it would be  “be yourself.”  If only it was as easy as that over used little phrase.

Q: Is touring less pressure than making the sitcom?

A: Possibly yes. I have been working very hard on the show. I feel in such a privileged position, and so I would never wing it. But the pressure is definitely off doing the tour because I haven’t got five cameras trained on me, with only two takes  in front of the studio audience to get it right before it ends up on national television.  That’s a bigger pressure.  People ask me, “Aren’t you terrified of performing at say the O2?” But the answer is “no.” The pressure of making the sitcom has its own benefits because after that nothing seems as frightening. The sitcom went out to 10 million people, which is crazy. The art form that is a studio audience sitcom is the most high-pressure imaginable – a tough way to make television, so the live show is much less scary. It’s more a case of “anything goes”, and what happens on the night happens.

Q:  Do you enjoy audience interaction?

A: Absolutely. I love chatting to people and having that connection with them.  And it’s lovely when something different happens every night.  I would love the show to feel theatrical too so people feel they have watched something unique that night.  Ok, now I am feeling the pressure.  Eeek!

Q: Have you checked out the arenas yet?

A: Yes. I went see the tennis at the O2 and thought, “The next time I’ll be here will be for my tour.” I went backstage and felt like Madonna – people compare us all the time! When I’m in the arenas, I’ll just pretend to be a pop star – the dream.  And if all else fails I’ll get my dog on to do tricks. Can she do tricks? Of course. I’m a writer, so I have to spend my time somehow. She’s very good at ‘down’ and getting quite good at ‘play dead’. She’s highly intelligent – naturally.

Q: You should be playing to a “home crowd” on the tour, shouldn’t you?

A: I hope so. I don’t think people will spend 25 pounds on a ticket and then say, “I knew she was rubbish”. Only jaded comedians would do that! I hope everyone will be coming along because they want to be there. They know that I am bound to gallop across the stage at some point. So if they boo me for doing that, I’ll say, “Why are you here, then? It’s your fault. You knew what you were getting!”

Q: Will you be delivering a lot of people’s favourite routines from the sitcom?

A: If people are making an effort to come and see you, you should give them something brand-new. Equally, they would be disappointed if I didn’t say, “Such fun” and perhaps a few other sitcom tit bits.  So, yes, a few.

Q: What do people say to you in the street?

A: They often ask me to say more obscure sayings like, “I’m going to sashay to the sachets” and “moist plinth.” The other day a five-year-old girl came up to me, stared at me and then said, “Clutch.” I thought she was mad. It was a really unnerving moment, I won’t lie. Then her mother told me, “She does that all the time.” I said that word once on the sitcom, and it’s become a catchphrase for that little girl. So once I realised she was not certifiable, I was delighted. And she’s right – “clutch” is a brilliant word. Another word that I can’t believe I haven’t put in the sitcom yet is “plume”. That’s a word that keeps on giving!

Q: Do you relish the unpredictability of a live show?

A: Definitely. Performing live really flexes your comedy muscles. Some of the biggest laughs come when something goes wrong. The other night at a warm-up gig, I had to deal with a heckler who was drunk – luckily on a good way, just on the cusp of nightmare drunk!  He kept shouting out affable things like, “Yes, I totally agree!” In the end, I said to him, “You sound like you’re bored down there. Why don’t you come up on stage with me?” He did – and it was great.  Worryingly I think he was funnier.

Q: Are you pleased that you inspire such loyalty in your fans?

A: Yes, I’m really touched by it. I’ve always written comedy with the audience in mind, but now I feel I’ve got a real mandate from them to write the show, and that feels very special.

Q: Does the fans’ enthusiasm ever get too much?

A: No. I’m able to go to Tesco’s and walk the dog and everything is fine. On a couple of occasions it’s been a bit much – one book signing was quite full on. It’s weird because you don’t feel like a person who people would scream at. You think, “Why is this happening?” If you’re a pop star, you expect that level of response. You don’t expect it as a little comedy actress (I say little). But it’s still a fascinating experience, but not one that I would like regularly.  I prefer keeping myself to myself.

Q: Do you still occasionally have moments of insecurity?

A: Yes. Of course.  Who doesn’t?  I have classic performer anxiety: When am I going to be unpopular? Have I only got 15 minutes of fame? And have only got seven minutes left now? Where am I on the spectrum of popularity? But it soon passes and you get your perspective back.

Q: Does your fame still take you by surprise sometimes?

A: Definitely. I used to be an autograph hunter myself. I remember getting Bill Nighy’s autograph at the stage door once. Afterwards, I wrote a letter to him saying, “Thank you for inspiring me”, and he wrote back to me, which was lovely. Even now, I still feel like a fan when I meet people.

Q: In what way?

A: For example, this morning I was on Chris Evans’ Radio Two show sitting opposite Cliff Richard, Kim Wilde and Ranulph Fiennes. At a moment like that, you take a breath and think, “This is absolutely extraordinary.” At one point, Chris played a Cliff Richard song, and Cliff Richard was singing along in the studio. The 20-year-old me would have been thinking, “What am I doing here? I have no place in this studio.” And the 40-year-old me was thinking exactly the same thing! Afterwards, I asked Cliff, “Do you still get excited about this business?” and he replied, “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t.”

Q: Have you experienced any other surreal moments of fame recently?

A: Yes. I was in the US the other day to publicise Call the Midwife, and I appeared on the Jimmy Fallon Show, which is recorded at 30 Rock in New York. That was a pretty big deal.  I kept expecting Kenneth from the sitcom 30 Rock to come and see if I was ok.  It’s very nice to enjoy moments like that. I feel really blessed. But it is hard to get your head around it. Nothing has changed. I still feel like a fan – I just happen to have a few fans myself now!

Miranda Hart – My, What I Call Live Show is touring the UK now. Tickets are available here;

http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/Miranda-Hart-tickets/artist/1788611

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