‘We’ve all become Thatcher’s children,’ reckons jobbing comic Hal Cruttenden, who merrily makes something like two grand a gig on the corporate circuit. Mark Thomas, naturally, begs to differ. And that’s the beauty of this opening episode of a three-part documentary: it takes a very timely look at the business of comedy – bigger than it’s ever been, surely – from all sides. It’s also very funny, especially when established comedians, who undoubtedly deserve credit for even discussing the issue, grapple with their consciences as they explain themselves for doing what some might regard as selling out. A corporate gig is good practice for working a tough audience, says Jo Brand; doing adverts (or ‘content-driven engagement platforms’, as one suit now calls them) buys writing time, protests John Cleese; Rhod Gilbert, meanwhile, has bailed out of them altogether, his nerves and self-image unable to take it any more. The astronomical fees may simply reflect supply and demand, but it doesn’t make the reality any more edifying. Engrossing, nonetheless.
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