Woody Allen(ish)

How to review something like Woody Allen(ish)? The comedy equivalent of a tribute act, it’s a show which sees English comic Simon Schatzberger adopt the material and persona of the famous comedian, writer and director. It makes for an interesting, slightly curious, and not altogether funny experience.

Fans of Woody Allen will doubtless relish the opportunity to witness a live performance of their hero’s work.

Starting with a story about a vodka advert and a Rabbi, the show takes us through a number of self-deprecatory crises from the life of Woody Allen. They’re all told in that understated, neurotic manner that the comedian is so well known for, going through various situations in which Allen himself generally turns out to be the loser.

This material comes straight from sixties New York and it is to Allen’s great credit there are many elements which have a universal feel, drawing out laughs over fifty years after they were created. An episode in which Allen tries and fails to get the better of the medical system is a standout. However in a lot of other places the distance of the performance from its original cultural context, both historically and geographically, feels too great. References to institutions like the Ed Sullivan show feel too alien and many set-ups and punchlines feel out of place and a little stale, lacking the impact they would once have had.

Schatzenberger’s performance is also a mixed bag. While the comedian’ physical representation of Allen is strong, the nasal verbal delivery is exaggerated, pushing character into caricature. It becomes distracting, taking the attention away from the stories and jokes being told.

Fans of Woody Allen will doubtless relish the opportunity to witness a live performance of their hero’s work. For others the novelty of tribute comedy will wear off pretty quickly, acting only as evidence that stand-up karaoke will never really take off.

Reviews by Alec Martin

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The Blurb

Simon Schatzberger performs Woody Allen's iconic and legendary 60s stand-up comedy routines. Including The Moose! A must-see for all fans of Woody and classic American stand-up comedy. 'Uncanny, like going back in time and seeing him live' (Jon Culshaw). 'Beautifully, vividly recreated' (Jason Solomons). 'Fans of Allen will love it' (Time Out).