In an interview with The Telegraph in 2012, Michael McIntyre claimed that he ‘didn’t want to go down the chat show route’, and yet there he was last night, proudly presenting the first episode of the imaginatively titled, The Michael McIntyre Chat Show.
Of course, there’s been a long history in this country of stand-up comedians becoming chat show kings and queens: Graham Norton, Alan Carr, Paul O’Grady, Frank Skinner and Sarah Millican to name just a few, and there was quite an expectation for Michael McIntyre – one of the UK’s most popular and biggest-selling comedians – to join that hall of fame. But has he succeeded?
The truth is, it’s too early to tell. The format of idle chats with celebrities, punctuated by banter with the audience, is quite reminiscent of The Rob Brydon Show, which, although running for three series, did go under the radar, quite unnoticed by many. I feel that The Michael McIntyre Chat Show might live a similar existence.
Throughout the first episode, which saw the host welcome Sir Terry Wogan, Lily Allen and Lord Sugar, I just felt that the BBC were trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. As I’ve said, Michael is one of the nation’s best-loved and most successful comedians – and he’s also one of mine; I saw him during his Showtime tour in 2012 and can honestly say that there are few comedians who have made me laugh quite as hard and often as him. He’s at his best, though, when he’s messing about, exuberating his energy and making everyday, relatable observations. The opportunities for him to do this when he’s sitting behind a desk, in conversation with Lord Sugar, however, are few and far between. Hence, some moments felt quite stilted – look no further than Michael’s chat with one of Sir Tezza’s TOGs. Surely the epitome of awkwardness?
I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that The Michael McIntyre Chat Show needs some work. (Actually, I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that it would have made more sense for the BBC to simply commission a third series of Comedy Roadshow.) It appears at the minute that the host is stuck between two worlds: Chat and Observation. Sadly, the two have never been combined well and, while it would be nice to see Michael be the first to achieve this feat, the chances of him doing that are quite slim. Perhaps once he gets a bit more experience with the writing and posing of questions, the show will become an altogether more enjoyable, and less hit-miss, affair. Perhaps the problem is also that Michael has Paul Tonkinson helping with the writing, despite previously saying that he ‘can’t do someone else’s jokes justice’.
Whatever the issue, I hope it’s resolved soon, as the audience expects the show to be a hit and Michael certainly deserves it.
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show is on Mondays at 10:35pm on BBC1
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