I saw another reviewer compare Jimmy Hogg to Bill Maher, and I have to say that it’s a comparison that sprung to my mind, as well — he springs to the stage, decked out in a suit, and presents himself as a fast-talking stand-up skeptic.
I’ve been amazed, over the past couple of days, to see the negative reviews pouring in — and particularly at the nature of their complaints: that the show is too meandering, too poorly-structured, too off-the-cuff. Yes, it’s very stream-of-consciousness, yes, it leaps wildly from one subject to another — but I never felt for a moment that he’d lost control of the performance; I was always confident that he knew exactly what he was doing. He skilfully conveys spontanaety, which is impressive — especially since I would wager that this is a show that is, for the most part, quite carefully scripted indeed.
Some also complained about the anti-religious element (what were they expecting?) and, if anything, I have the opposite complaint: I found myself really wanting him to take the gloves off. After all, this is a man who seizes the stage and proceeds to assert that my core ideology is not merely foolish, but poisonous. He seems to take great delight in teasing us, of almost saying something of substance, of dancing right up to the edge and then backing away again. I found this frustrating — after all, even The Collectors had the courage of its convictions, ludicrous as I may have found those convictions to be. And here’s a man who I actually want to hear talk about the subject!
The unfortunate result of his reluctance to dig deeper is the appearance of a kind of glib superficiality, as he trots out the usual fatuous anti-theist schtick: dragging out the most moronically simplistic theologies he can find, knocking them down, and then cackling “See? See? Religion is intellectually bankrupt!” It’s the “some birds are black, therefore all birds are blackbirds” logical fallacy — and while I’m delighted to see someone presenting themselves as a champion of rational thought (particularly in an age of the “your personal truth is your God” nonsense), I would have been more delighted still if he’d, y’know, used some onstage.
Which probably makes it sounds like I hated the show, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. I was laughing pretty much non-stop, from beginning to end. In fact, I’ll admit to being kind of annoyed by the other reviews on the site, since the show I went to was packed out with people who were laughing consistently. Did they all go home and try to claim that they hated it? What the hell, man?