Miranda is like marmite, or Mrs Brown’s Boys. You either love her or you hate her. When she announced she was off on her My What I Call Stand Up arena tour around the UK, my first thought was “Will this work away from the comfort of her TV show?”
You know it’s going to be a cheesy night in with Miranda Hart when she runs on stage to the sound of Chesney Hawks’ The One and Only. This is confirmed by Hart herself telling the audience “Tonight, I thought we’d have a party!” before leading us in a sing song of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive. Later in the evening there’s a dance-along to Whigfield’s Saturday Night and a surprise blind date for two unsuspecting audience members.
Miranda has always been a champion for women who regularly find themselves in (at times unbelievable) socially awkward situations and has made a career out of laughing at herself. That’s the Miranda it would have been nice to see, stripped back without the buffet table, rehearsed looks to camera and an unexplained YouTube video.
Hart shines when ad libbing with the audience, showing a side of her we don’t see in her TV show, and her social commentary – particularly a story about a couple trying to control their child at a wedding – got the biggest laughs. But too many of the jokes were either recycled from her TV show or simply out-of-date ideas – especially her thoughts on “youths”.
Taking what people love about you and your television show on a stand-up tour is no easy task. Hart relied on a tightly scripted show, incredibly similar to her sitcom, but she should have more confidence in her abilities as a stand-up comedian, carrying her anecdotes through and building on them more.
The show ends on a high, with a call-back to all the evening’s gags in the form of a video montage followed by a strut down the stage Beyonce-style. Yet for a comedian who likes to bounce off her audience, I can’t help feeling it would have been a more successful show in a more intimate setting than the vast O2 Arena.
Overall, it was a night of highs and lows. Hart is clearly comfortable with a TV show format, playing with camera angles and sketches to back up her jokes. But the night failed to take off, chopping and changing from sitcom to dance party to stand-up routine and getting lost in the realms of YouTube. For fans of the BBC series it was a chance to enjoy some in-jokes but for some it was an awkward live episode of Miranda without the help of her supporting cast members.