‘Hi, Eric Swineblade,’ says a bluetooth-enabled gumph-bot at the door, proffering his executive, solutions-providing hand. ‘Are you on Twitter? Tinder? LinkedIn?’
The calibre of Übermen’s opening and closing scenes suggests it could make a brilliant – and brilliantly up-itself – concept show about the counterintuitive regression of the modern world.
It’s an undeniably strong start to Damien Slash’s hour of character comedy: when we’ve all taken our seats, he embarks on a vacuous, nonsensical and extremely funny improvised talk about business, or ‘what it’s about’, or something. He hasn’t a clue what he’s on about; there’s probably a depressingly high number of not-quite-hims toadying around the country, getting paid far too much to do very, very little.
The strength of Swineblade as a world-skewering creation – he’s one of Slash’s YouTube hits – suggests we’re in for an hour of funny and semi-insightful comedy; this isn’t quite the case. Slash’s changes of character are backed by a totally separate voiceover narrative that ends one scene-change early, leaving a dangling radio piece before the conclusion of the show; the selection of intervening characters is about as well considered.
There’s the greasy gambling addict on crutch (singular) who gabbles in smirk-worthy non-sequiturs. Then there’s the lame-ass gaming instructor who, drinking something out of a tin, leches just too much on a girl in the front row. Is she cool with playing along, for the joke? Are we cool with her having to play along – you know, just for the creepy joke?
I’ve seen enough of that this year to know that the answer is no: no we’re not.
The length of these segments and the general ubiquity of these characters as figures of ridicule makes them drag, but it’s not just that they’re not timely; as parodies of social rejects, it’s actually their bullying heartlessness that leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
So it’s a good thing when we reach the palate-cleansing finale, a pretentious mineral water tasting session led by Piero Pisswhall, PhD. He – and the preceding garage-rap book club – bring us back to slightly unreal, hubristic territory, and the show is all the better for it.
The calibre of Übermen’s opening and closing scenes suggests it could make a brilliant – and brilliantly up-itself – concept show about the counterintuitive regression of the modern world. Counterintuitive regression is about all the rest of the show manages.