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‘Cruising is the gig to have,’ says black American comic Percy Crews 2, ‘Cruising, now, is like the new Las Vegas.’ No, he’s not talking about searching for an anonymous fuck; the third and final episode of BBC2’s doc series about the comedy industry focuses on the lives of cruise-ship comedians, and the big bucks they can earn at sea.
Through interviews with old-school entertainers like Nicholas Parsons and Tom O’Connor, we learn what’s required to keep the passengers amused, and how being aboard with your audience means you’re on stage even when on deck. What’s the secret? ‘It’s getting as old as most of the passengers,’ jokes one-man-band performer Bruce Thompson. But the cruise industry has inevitably changed over the last 30 years. Those loyal older passengers still want the safe veterans, but a new younger audience are coming aboard, and that’s where Percy Crews 2 comes in, playing edgier, late-night shows on the more party-centric ships.
But we know this goes on, and if we didn’t, it’s not exactly a huge surprise. Interesting enough, but not the eye-opener we were hoping for.