Broadcast on Channel 4 -
11pm, 5 August 1998
Written, presented and produced by Jon Ronson
It's Friday. As a result of James' eulogy, every member
of the Perrier committee are coming to today's show. The
Perrier judges all decide to sit in the front row - usually this
wouldn't matter because they are incognito, but because Ian is
friends with most of them I feel he may be put off.
CUT TO SHUTTLEWORTH IN MID-ROUTINE.
DESPITE THE PRESENCE OF THE PERRIER COMMITTEE, THERE IS STILL
HARDLY ANYONE IN THE ROOM.
Well, what it is, you see, basically, is I'm a critic.
(A little laughter) The kind of idiot who'll spend August
up here seeing five shows a day, and on my days off I'll go to
WE CUT AWAY TO VARIOUS COMMITTEE
MEMBERS. THEY LOOK GLOOMY AND BORED.
In that time, I've written about this
consciousness-buggering jamboree for The Independent, The List,
currently the Financial Times, and even - God help us - OK Weekly.
Being a critic's all about abuse of power, after all. I'm
not a stand up. I'm more a sort of lean-to,
THE PLEASANCE COURTYARD AGAIN. IAN,
SMUGGLING TIC-TACS, IS NOT HAPPY.
After the show, Ian decides to approach the Perrier
PERRIER COMMITTEE WOMAN
I thought you were going to pick on me more. I was getting very
anxious there in the first row. You alright?
Just saving... how do... yeah... not happy today.
Not happy? After the show, or just generally?
I don't know what it was, I just felt I was... I was a lot
slower in... er... I mean, at one stage I was getting bored with
the... with the sentence patterns, the cadence patterns, so... erm, I
lost confidence in the material midway through
RONSON ASKS ANOTHER PERRIER JUDGE,
RORY, WHAT HE THINKS ABOUT IAN SHUTTLEWORTH BEING SHORTLISTED.
THROUGHOUT THIS INTERVIEW, SHUTTLEWORTH IS SEEN IN THE
BACKGROUND, BEING PATTED ON THE BACK BY HIS COLLEAGUES AND ENJOYING
(CONFUSED) About Ian? What about Ian? Are
He's getting on the shortlist now.
(SNORTS IN A 'DON'T BE FUCKING RIDICULOUS' TYPE
WAY) He's not getting on the shortlist! He's... he's
not getting on the shortlist! Who-who-who-who thought that it was
gonna go... who thought he was good enough to go on? (RONSON
INDICATES JAMES) Well, I don't wanna frighten James and
stuff, but do they know each other or what... (CUTAWAY OF JAMES
AT THE BAR, BUTTER REFUSING TO MELT IN HIS MOUTH)... are they
mates... well, y'know, he's biased, I-I don't think he
should have a vote. But we're standing very very close to
him... I mean, do you not think he might have overheard?
LATER ON. RONSON INTERVIEWS RORY IN THE
'FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD' SNACK BAR:
Rory's not a critic in everyday life. He won a competition
in a magazine to become a Perrier judge.
You felt very strongly about Ian Shuttleworth.
Yeah, I did., because I think it's... I-I-I don't think
that a friend should... should have... or I don't think a friend
on the panel would... should have the right to put forward
another friend who's doing a stand up show.
Does that make you think that the world of
Is incestuous? Hm-mm. And, er... and watching... watching the
show, which I did enjoy, I mean I did laugh, but I caught
all the references, you know... but I would have been appalled to see him on the shortlist. 'Cos it was so... I
mean, er... and it's incredible, it... did he really get a
five-star review in The Scotsman?
Well they moved it down to four... somebody... he-he... it was
submitted as five-star review, but they made it four stars, it got
published as four.
Erm... I think the editor of The Scotsman...
... was worried that Ian Shuttleworth would disappear up his
own arse? (RONSON IS CLEARLY AMUSED; RORY GRINS AND DRINKS FROM
HIS BOTTLE OF VOLVIC) Do you know who the reviewer
A woman called Anya.
Anya? Not heard of her.
(AUDIBLY DELIGHTED AT TELLING HIM) Well, she's a
friend of Ian's.
Oh, you're... (LAUGHS SPECTACULARLY) For God's
sake! That's terrible
! Come on! That's terrible! I
don't believe that - really
?! How many friends has this
As a member of the public, Rory considers himself a fresh pair
of eyes, untainted by the scourge of industry nepotism.
THE NEXT DAY. RORY IS NO LONGER IN SUCH
GOOD SPIRITS, AND VOICES HIS OBJECTION TO THE PERRIER
I was very disturbed that, er... that... I-I understand what
Jon... when you said to me yesterday that... that had been put
forward for consideration for the shortlist. The more and more I
thought about it, I became... furious, I was incoherent with rage,
erm... that-that... about the incestuousness that some... that a
friend should nominate a friend. I, er... I-I-I really strongly felt
that that should not have happened. Jon gave me the impression,
erm... that, er... that it... that was going to be discussed as a
possible shortlist show...
FEMALE VOICE (OOV)
Only in the context that everybody else is being discussed,
(WITH OVERTONES OF 'IF YOU SAY SO') Oh,
FEMALE VOICE (OOV)
I mean, not-not... any more specially. Can we talk...
I don't... I honestly thought the material was... was very
FEMALE VOICE (OOV)
Can we talk about whether the show was any good?
Yeah, that's what I was..
FEMALE VOICE (OOV)
Why did you think it was a good show, James?
I thought it was fantastic, the material. I thought it was
I thought it was, erm... I thought it would have made a funny
article, but I thought he's not a performer...
FEMALE VOICE (OOV)
Yeah, it was not an article...
And writing gags is a very very different thing to writing
cr... , y'know... any kind of journalistic piece.
FEMALE VOICE (OOV)
It was like a piece being read out...
And it was like, yeah... and it was... er, it was alright,
erm... as a, as a piece... but I just thought it was,
FEMALE VOICE (OOV)
It was entertaining...
Yeah, what did you feel about the material that he was
doi... OK, alr... I agree, actually, about his performance, I
don't think that's a strong part of Ian's show, but I
do feel, that his material, though you would... would say it was an
in... incestuous thing to do...
Deeply incestuous thing to do.
Deeply, deeply incestuous...
MALE VOICE (OOV)
Master of detail...
... is, er... I thought there was... it was...
MALE VOICE (OOV)
I just wondered whether it appealed to anybody else?
Yah, I was... that's what I was concer... slightly worried,
whether it would appeal to-to other people
It appealed to me greatly because I... y'know,
I... obviously... have... come from that world. But did anyone else
think it was a... everyone else think it was a complete waste of
THIRD FEMALE VOICE (OOV)
There was... there was no reason for me to be there.
NIGHT. CUT TO OUTSIDE OF THE GILDED
BALLOON. A QUEUE IS FORMING.
This is Late and Live at the Gilded Balloon. This is where the
comedians sit in the audience and watch the stars of Edinburgh
perform. It's big news to be booked at Late and Live - only
those who get rave reviews in The Scotsman or make it onto the
Perrier long-list are awarded this accolade. Opening the bill
tonight is Ian Shuttleworth. This may be the first time that a
critic has been booked to appear in front of a room full of
comedians rather than vice versa. It'll be a new experience for
SHUTTLEWORTH IS BACKSTAGE IN SILENT
That was between me and The Almighty, but I don't think
I'm giving away any secrets if I... if I tell you that I said
'Please, God, don't let me fuck up'.
A GRUBBY, DUSTY STAGE. THE AUDIENCE ARE
HOT AND BOOZY.
Are you ready for our next act, can we bring him straight on,
ladies and gentleman? (Audience members agree that this is a
good idea) He's a freelance critic - ladies and gentlemen,
put your hands together and go mental for the one and only IAN
IAN SHUTTLEWORTH ENTERS TO LOUD,
'FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY' APPLAUSE. HE HAS MADE SOME CONCESSIONS TO
THE CROWD - HE NOW WEARS A LEATHER JACKET AND SWIGS FROM A BOTTLE
OF LAGER. HE HAS ALSO MADE SUBTLE CHANGES TO HIS
(PEERING OUT INTO CROWD) What the fuck am I doing up here?
'I DUNNO' SHOUTS ONE
I'm a cretin, for fuck's sake!
'YES YOU ARE' SHOUTS SOMEONE,
STEPPING ON THE PUNCHLINE.
Sorry, I'm a critic, for fuck's sake!
'FUCK OFF' THEY
Jesus, I should... I should be down there sneering at
y... (STARTS TALKING LIKE A SARCASTIC SCHOOL TEACHER)... yes,
yes, I can try reviewing you lot, yes... 'Large, interesting,
varied cast, slight lack of original material... '
'FUCKING LEAVE!' IS THE NEXT
PIECE OF ADVICE.
I don't know...
'SSSSHHHH!' IMPLORES A KIND
AUDIENCE MEMBER. IN CONTRAST, DYLAN MORAN CAN BE HEARD TO SHOUT
It's alright, I'm from Belfast - I know what legitimate
A SMATTERING OF LAUGHTER. 'GIVE HIM
A CHANCE EVERYBODY' SOMEONE SUGGESTS.
Well, look, y'know, I've... (TRIES TO ADJUST
MICROPHONE TO HIS HEIGHT)... let's just, let's just
raise things to my level...(FINDS HE CANNOT DO THIS )... or
completely fail to do so. (TAKES MICROPHONE OFF ITS HOLDER AND
PACES ABOUT THE STAGE)
'JUST LEAVE!' IS THE NEXT
HECKLE. SHUTTLEWORTH MISHEARS COMPLETELY, AND VENTURES FORTH WITH
AN AD LIB:
'Lean'? With a figure like this? One of the last words
you can apply to me! (BACK TO THE SCRIPT) Just gets so
fucking confusing coming up here, and you read all the buzzwords
and the programme blurbs and the bumf and the handbills, and you
know what they mean as well as I do, y'know. 'Vibrant'?
'Well, we think we're shit-hot... '
NEXT HECKLE: 'DO YOU THINK WE GIVE
'Original'? Well, that's... y'know, that's
as in Werther's Original, y'know... it's hard, it's
a sticky, there's no point suckin' it...
A LITTLE LAUGHTER. CUT TO ALAN DAVIES
IN THE AUDIENCE, SHAKING HIS HEAD AND LOOKING LIKE HE CANNOT
BELIEVE HOW BAD SHUTTLEWORTH IS. HE NOTICES THE CAMERA, SMILES, AND
MAKES A THUMBS-DOWN GESTURE.
OK... Emma's parents, Emma's parents were up for the
week so she's incredibly self conscious, and
'GET OFF!' THEY
... editing out the dirty bits as she goes along. And the... well
you get the picture. Cos, yeah... 'cos we've got our own
buzzwords as well...
DYLAN MORAN SHOUTS 'THIS IS NOT AN
... y'know, the stuff you don't know what we mean
when we write, like 'Disappointing'. Disappointing means
'It's a crock of shit, but I spent last night on the piss
with the company... ' (THE BOOING HAS NOW INCREASED TO SUCH
AN EXTENT THAT SHUTTLEWORTH DECIDES TO MAKES HIS EXIT)
you've really been incredibly civil, I'm off to feed my
papier mâché tortoise...
HE EXEUNTS TO MORE HECKLES, INCLUDING A
CRY OF 'WATCH YER ARSE!'. SHUTTLEWORTH IS STILL MIKED UP
AND WE CAN HEAR HIM SAY 'WELL THAT WAS A FUCKING
THE COMPERE RETURNS:
That was Ian Shuttleworth, ladies and gentlemen! So is that two
stars, one star, one star?
AUDIENCE ALL SHOUT 'ONE
No stars! (Laughter)
BACKSTAGE. SHUTTLEWORTH IS ONCE AGAIN
PACING UP AND DOWN WITH A CIGARETTE. HE IS TALKING WITH A MEMBER OF
That was the most hellish experience of my
What was? Out there?
Those 45 seconds, yeah. And I'm frankly... I'm just not
up to it... again... y'know...
Who knows? It's your choice completely.
Cheers. Sorry about that, but...
STAFF MEMBER (CLEARLY NOT GIVING
A FUCK EITHER WAY)
No, don't worry.
SHOTS OF SHUTTLEWORTH WALKING HOME IN
I later discover that the two who led the booing were the
comedians Dylan Moran and Sean Hughes. Maybe Ian represents to them
all critics and this was a form of revenge on behalf of all
CUT TO SEAN HUGHES BEING
I wasn't aware of who he was or whether he was a critic
until I heard Dylan Moran shouting... and Dylan was right at the
back, and then I thought it was quite good fun, and I said to Dylan
'If you're gonna do it, do it at the front', and he
actually went up the front. And I might have joined in then, but I
don't remember saying anything, but, erm... I think I was just
enjoying the whole... as a spectator that night,
y'know... 'cos there was enough people shouting. If he... if
he had any intelligence about him, he knew that Late and Live is
where comics hang out - like 'Hi, I'm a critic, I'm
hanging out with my peers, y'know? I go out with the other
comics and see how they like my stuff... ' Yeah, it was cruel
but it was a mannered cruelty, and it had its purpose.
Ian's back to being a critic now.
And he's probably laying into people big time because of
CUT TO SHUTTLEWORTH AT HOME, TAPPING
AWAY AT A LAPTOP. HE READS OUT WHAT HE HAS JUST
'It can be grimly reassuring to attend a show and find that
one's prejudices about the performer are entirely born out. The
self-aggrandising, sophomore doggerel paraded in vice and verse,
the poetry of Murray Lachlan Young is a case in point.' End. I
don't think he deserves more of the oxygen of publicity than
HE TURNS TO THE CAMERA, THEN BACK TO
THE FOLLOWING CAPTIONS ARE DISPLAYED
OVER THE CLOSING MUSIC:
'IAN SHUTTLEWORTH DIDN'T GET
SHORTLISTED FOR THE PERRIER AWARD. HE CONTINUES TO WRITE REVIEWS
FOR THE FINANCIAL TIMES'
'IAN PLANS TO RETURN TO THE EDINBURGH
FESTIVAL WITH A NEW COMEDY ROUTINE'
Written and produced by JON RONSON
Assistant producer KATIE BUCHANAN
Production manager ADELE VENN
Film Editor HORACIO QUEIRO
Series producer SIMON EVERSON
Executive producer DAVID FRANK
Directed and filmed by RUSSELL ENGLAND
An RDF Television production for Channel 4
05/08/98, Channel 4