La La Land Review: When Will I Be Famous?

April 27, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

LA LA LAND: Tuesday 27th April, BBC3, 10.30pm ALERT ME

Hollywood: A land full of the gullible and impressionable. At least, that’s what comedian Marc Wootton is counting on as he takes his brand of character comedy Stateside.

The three individuals he has created for his mission to the promised land are Gary, a wide boy geezer type who wants to make it big in the acting world; Brendan, a pretentious documentary film maker and Shirley, an effete, wispy haired psychic (those familiar with Wootton’s previous work will recognise her from High Spirits With Shirley Ghostman).

Comparisons to Sacha Baron Cohen are going to be inevitable – Wootton’s characters are the only actors used in show – the comedy supposedly comes from his characters’ interactions with real people.

Some of the jokes are simple and throwaway – Brendan’s first pitch to a Hollywood producer about an ‘original’ idea for filming sharks in a cage is met with immediate derision as you’d expect. The exec gets frustrated, calls him an idiot and leaves. Wooton’s pitch is funny to a point but it quickly descends into simply wasting someone’s time.

Other jokes are slightly more long lived – Gary tries the patience of not just Hollywood golden age star Ruta Lee, but of professional photographer to the stars, Lennon. Ruta is as plain speaking as you like, “You don’t know sh*t from Shinola? she immediately declares when Gary displays his acting chops.

Lennon is even funnier. After winding him up because he doesn’t have a “library backdrop? in his studio, Lennon takes one look at Gary’s ensemble and gold chain necklace and declares, “I see you have your Mr T starter kit going on there?.

It’s Shirley Ghostman who almost brings out the fallibility of other people. Watching a publicist’s face when he tells her that if he goes home, he’d be deported, is magic – an open mouthed ‘O’ of horror while she nods in dumfounded politeness.

However, what was great about characters like Ali G and Borat is his ability to expose the hypocrisy and stupidity of the people he’s with. Marc Wootton just exposes the stupidity of his own characters and we already knew that from the outset. There’s nothing enduringly amusing at people getting annoyed at annoying people.

It’s the first in the series though, so it’s worth keeping an eye on to see if his characters pull anything with a little more depth out of the bag, or whether they’ll be lost with the other Hollywood wannabes.