Miles Jupp - Fibber In The Heat, at New Greenham Arts, Newbury, on Thursday, March 10
HAVING been rather burnt by an uncomfortable evening spent in the company of Will Hodgson and his disconcerting tales of a childhood being bullied, I tend to shy away from storytelling comedians, so it was probably rather fortuitous that I hadn’t done my advance research and twigged that Miles Jupp’s show was one long tale surrounding the England cricket team’s 2006 tour of India.
Inspired mainly in my attendance by my fondness for Jupp’s character Archie the Inventor in the CBeebies series Balamory, I was aware that the actor also performed stand-up comedy, but I hadn’t expected him to combine the two in such a well-told based-on-a-true story of dreams achieved and thwarted, as Jupp described how, jaded with his acting career and buoyed by England’s success in the 2005 Ashes, he made it his aim to break into the world of cricket journalism.
Blagging his way into the press pack with vague promises of some piecework for BBC Scotland and Swansea’ s Western Mail (who were only interested in anything to do with Welsh cricketer Simon Jones - who was injured before the first match), Jupp soon discovered he was well out of his depth among a group of experienced hacks and legendary players-turned-pundits. and by the end of the month-long tour had concluded that there’s no such thing as a dream job, you should never get too close to your heroes, and the view from the press box isn’t all that special.
The joy in the performance was in Jupp’s turn of phrase as he staggered from one disastrous event to the next; trying to avoid sunburn from the glare bounced directly off the pitch into the press box, and attempting to resemble the photograph on the illicit press pass handed to him when his own promised one didn’t transpire. Even the scatological was so eloquently put as to transform a description of a nasty dose of Delhi belly into a voyage of self-discovery, as Jupp realised he had taken on more than he could chew - and not just from the roadside food stall he had stopped at for an ill-advised snack.
Jupp’s trip to India may have been ultimately doomed in terms of turning him onto a new career path, but among the tales of mishaps, loneliness and uncertainty there was an element of triumph in the audacity of his attempts to follow his dream, and his realisation that as a fan of anything there’s no better place than to be among other fans, revelling in the thrill and vibrancy of a crowd enjoying the escapism of an experience that is a million miles away from their day job, whatever that may be.
- First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, March 17, 2011