Comedy Reviews

Arnold Brown Presents Happiness: The Search Continues

10 August 2008 | Comedy Reviews
Originally published at The Groggy Squirrel

“I was walking along a street in Glasgow…” starts Arnold Brown.

And then he pauses. Somewhere inside your head, a clock ticks heavily. Flowers bloom, wither and die. Civilisations rise and fall. Entire galaxies fade from the night sky as their component stars expire one by one.

It’s a very long pause.

”… as I have every right to do”.

The crowd falls about.

Other comedians have used the long pause to great effect – Norman Lovett, Stewart Lee, Jack Dee – but none of them have nailed it quite like Arnold.

He is often described as ‘the comedian’s comedian’. Indeed, some of his routines are about comedy: bizarre digressions about whether the character in his joke was a real person or not; the fessing up to certain events having never happened. “Sometimes,” he says, “comedians lie.”

Arnold is probably most famous for personally hatching Alternative Comedy in the 1980s and raising the bastard chicken as his own. He showed up in ‘The Young Ones’ and in the original ‘Comic Strip’ film and the subsequent ‘Comic Strip’ television series. He narrates documentaries about comedy, has worked with the likes of Armando Iannucci, John Cleese and Frank Sinatra for goodness sake.

Ian Macpherson, special guest to Arnold in ‘Happiness’, is of similar stature. He won the first ever Time Out comedy award, the only ever Simon Munnery comedy award and is probably the only Irish comedian of his generation not to appear on ‘Father Ted’.

A pleasure then, to see these gentlemen perform side by side. Well, not quite side by side: Ian goes on first to conduct his unique brand of rabble-rousing and Arnold follows to try to calm everybody down.

Ian’s finale – a lengthy song from his Catholic musical, ‘Seventeen Brides for Seventeen Brothers’ – is a marvel to behold.

Arnold’s morality tale about sex with sheep will literally make you cry.

New comedians should be forced, at gunpoint if necessary, to come to Edinburgh and watch Ian and Arnold strut their respective stuffs. ‘Happiness: the search continues’ is a masterclass in comedy technique.