Groovy Old Men – A Spotter’s Guide
By Nick Baker
Icon Books – £12.99
In stand-up comedy, there’s the usual plethora of safe, staid and squalid subject matter with which irksome comedians such as Jo Brand and the equally vile Russell Brand, shunt their shoddy wares. That these two (so-called) stand-ups are not related is somewhat surprising, as both conduct their terribleness amid a smug and similar sea of hideous and hopeless repetition. Not to mention calculation.
The latter of which in a roundabout way, applies to Groovy Old Men – A Spotter’s Guide by Nick Baker.
Just as bad comedy leans far too heavily upon such tired and tested issues as the opposite sex, bad sex, no sex, oral sex etc – none of which are particularly funny let alone alternative – so too does the medium of age. Whether it’s grumpy old men or frumpy old women, kooky old men or groovy old women, kinky old men or slinky old women, the emphasis here is on age.
Plus the unfortunate trajectory of what getting old entails.
Be it bad health, bad eye-sight, bad hygiene, bad dancing, bad whatever, the premise upon which this book – and so many other mediums like it – fundamentally depends, is the sometimes cruel manifestation of increasing age. Surely a literary platform from which high-octane, observational prowess, ought to potentially soar. But instead, Baker, like the aforementioned two Brands, has opted for the safe route. The route, which, like he who calls himself Cliff Richard (who is mentioned herein), merely skims the surface of that which it pertains to truly embrace and understand.
For instance, on page 33, Baker touches on the issue of dancing: ‘’Older people dancing is an important topic. ‘Your dad dancing at a wedding’ is now a common embarrassment scenario for a younger generation. This is because dancing (especially at a wedding) is a powerful metaphor for sex.’’
Is dancing at a wedding, really a powerful metaphor for sex (that word again)? Surely not? Madonna cavorting in spiked heels and a metal push-up bra surrounded by fifty buffed and polished black guys in Speedos, is a metaphor for sex. Daughter dancing with Father is a sign of both unyielding and undying love isn’t it? Either way, I watched the fantastic Peter Kaye do a routine on fathers dancing at weddings, years ago.
Hilarious it was too. And inventive.
Reason being, he did it in such a way that wasn’t a put down, but rather an observation. Kaye also homed in on the issue of toddlers dancing at weddings; as well as tipsy grandparents, over-zealous singing aunts and badly dressed uncles. To be sure, the issue wasn’t age, but the subtlety of human behaviour. This is something sorely lacking throughout Groovy Old Men.
As behaviour defines age – not the other way round.