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Festival Spy Report: Where the Brits Were

Filed under: New Yorker Festival   Tagged: , ,

This just in, a dispatch from a correspondent we shall call C.R.B.D. Special to Emdashes! With photos after the jump.

Anyone wondering where all the British guys in New York were Saturday night, wonder no more: All of them were at the Cedar Lake Dance studio basking in the reflected funniness of Steve Coogan (as interviewed by the equally smart and funny George Saunders). Saunders introduced Coogan sweetly, saying Coogan shares his feeling that “comedy is not just fun, but important” and, incidentally, that he and his wife had to turn off a Coogan DVD recently because they were “laughing so hard that we had stopped breathing.” Then Coogan himself was with us, and did impressions. “There’s a lot of people who think they can do Michael Caine,” he said, before doing Caine to a T. He said his French teacher used to order him up to the front of the class to imitate other teachers at the school; the guy would go sit at the back of the class with the students and yell out people for him to do.


Lots of clips followed—Alan Partridge, 24 Hour Party People, Tristram Shandy, and his latest show, Saxondale, about a former Jethro Tull roadie-turned-pest-controller. (If you haven’t seen any of these, please, Netflix them all immediately. Really, do it now. Don’t even read the rest of this!) Coogan had already perfected cringe-inducing character-based comedy when Ricky Gervais was still cleaning toilets, or whatever he did before The Office. And Coogan has this to say about the form: “You have to be careful, otherwise it’s partly creative sadism.”


The usual Q & A session followed, with the usual questions: “Do you think American comedy is doomed?” asked an American. The answer was sort of no, but Coogan did say it seemed like “the sofa in the middle of the living room and the wacky neighbor isn’t working anymore.” Also, apparently NBC is pumping him for ideas; expect more pond-hopper shows from them shortly. Meanwhile…are you still here? What did I tell you about the Netflixing? Go!


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