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April 11, 2011 / Siobhan Argent

Tom Binns Double Bill: Ian D. Montfort and Ivan Brackenbury: Review


Tom Binns’s double bill offers two characters, a longer-than-usual show and the added (although unforeseen) benefit of a great view from his allotted venue. While Ian D Montfort still has his training wheels on, Ivan Brackenbury is the character written in comedy ink.

Binns makes a wise move to bring Ian out first. As a new character to Binns’ repertoire, the “celebrity psychic” is blessed with the ability to talk to the dead – as long as they’re famous. Hitler comes in for a spell, as does Shakespeare, Michael Jackson and Liz Taylor. It’s a premise that has potential, but Binns hasn’t yet had time to iron out the kinks. The props are all well-planned and cleverly executed, but Montfort hasn’t yet found his voice; Binns slips between what is clearly supposed to be Montfort’s accent and his own. And while Montfort also has the wonderful knack of saying exactly the wrong thing, it’s a character that hasn’t had as much time in the comedy spotlight as Ivan Brackenbury.

It does seem as though the audience gets value for money from the double-bill offering, since you’re rewarded with a crowd favourite in the second half, and community-hospital-radio DJ Ivan Brackenbury is guaranteed to get the politically-incorrect party going. His gimmick is simply that he has the worst kind of gift; he picks completely inappropriate songs to dedicate to patients.

This includes, for example, a dedication to the new set of Siamese twins, born joined at the head. They get treated to a rendition of Phil Collins’ Two Hearts (with just one mind), and suicide watch patients are encouraged to perk up with Van Halen’s Jump. It’s all a great excuse for Brackenbury, with his daggy tracksuit pants, tucked-in shirt and schoolboy lisp, to bounce around like a hyped-up schoolkid at a birthday party. For the audience, it’s solid entertainment and quite easily outlasts its thirty minute timeslot, particularly because the pace is so quick.

Once the first few painfully ironic songs have been played, it all becomes a bit of a game to see how quickly you can pick what song comes next. There are also the other nifty little touches Binns has added to make it seem like more of a “real” radio show, including celebrity endorsements (both fake and surprisingly real). So while Ivan Brackenbury lacks tact and sensitivity, this hilarious deficiency isn’t overshadowed by dead air time or poor sound management. His “radio show” is run efficiently enough to allow the real comedy, including puns about jaundice and Coldplay’s Yellow, to take centre stage.

Tom Binns’ Double Bill is a wise move – Montfort is still a testing ground for something promising, but Brackenbury is a guaranteed treat in the second half.

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