For three decades Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer have been one of Britain’s most beloved comedy partnerships.
From the still-unmatched surrealism of ‘gameshow’ Shooting Stars, to anarchic sitcom House of Fools, the pair capture a unique kind of silly, outlandish humour that many have tried (and often failed) to replicate.
Away from his work with Reeves, however, Mortimer has carved out a considerable comedy reputation on his own more recently.
He has taken to the world of podcasting on the wonderfully bizarre, loosely football-themed Athletico Mince, and his Twitter account offers reliably hilarious insights into his unique mind, from auctioning off cat names to movie criticism.
I wonder if Daniel Craig watches Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares… you just can't tell from his acting… very frustrating
— bob mortimer (@RealBobMortimer) June 10, 2018
The Middlesbrough comic has even built a following in the US thanks to his appearances on panel show Would I Lie To You? going viral.
Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing comes to BBC Two tonight, adding another string to his bow (or line to his rod in this case).
Here’s why the cult of Mortimer has only grown.
Would He Lie to Us?
In 2015, Mortimer underwent a triple bypass heart operation – and was forced to cancel the first leg of his and Reeves’ long-awaited live tour.
That would undoubtedly change anybody’s life.
But it definitely gave Mortimer a new outlook on his mortality, one which he touchingly detailed in an excellent edition of The Adam Buxton Podcast.
“Now it’s like ‘I must get this done. I must be funnier. I must start being funnier.'”
While his work-rate hasn’t slowed, Mortimer’s onscreen delivery has. And that’s only made him more hilarious.
As he doles out unlikely stories on panel show Would I Lie to You?, that relaxed, deadpan delivery adds a daft credence to his words, no matter how asinine they might be.
Of all the show’s guests, he masters the potential of the concept beautifully – whether it turns out he was dispensing surreal lies with a droll tone, or actually being sincere about practicing his own dentistry.
Those appearances were grabbing the attention even before his health scare. A YouTube compilation will provide you with nearly an hour of the man’s best work from the show (filed under “Mortimerian Tales“).
It includes the true story of how a seven-year old Mortimer burned down his house with a box of ‘Standard’ fireworks, and the revelation that he can split an apple clean in two with his bare hands.
This is where Mortimer’s dry delivery really shines. The moments where he can no longer contain his own giggles, or cracks a smile at his own silliness, provide laugh-out-loud moments.
Up to the task
Perhaps one of the best recent examples of Mortimer’s comedic versatility came with his series-winning appearance on Taskmaster.
The show – which regularly pulls in record viewing figures for host channel Dave – sees comedians set devilish challenges by hosts Alex Horne and Greg Davies.
Whether he was showing off his Pork Pie Presentation Unit (“I made it to encourage my children to eat the cheaper meats”), or doodling a crude face on a satsuma to transform it into lathe operator Mary Downbyyourside, Mortimer’s presence was a constant highlight.
One of the series’ best moments came when Mortimer, Aisling Bea and Sally Phillips were tasked with writing and performing a song for a stranger.
Performing in front of ‘Rosalind’, the song starts off simple enough, with a whispered refrain of the stranger’s name.
But when Mortimer breathily sings “Rosalind’s a nightmare”, you know it’s about to take a ludicrous turn.
By the time he’s belting out the song’s final chorus, the track resembles something straight out of Shooting Stars, Bea and Phillips gleefully insulting the total stranger sat in front of them through music.
Away from TV, Mortimer is winning newer fans online too. Athletico Mince is as much a surreal comedy show as it is a podcast about the beautiful game.
It’s concerned with “songs, stories, brass hands, and chicken dippers”, with Mortimer teaming up with writer Andy Dawson for some gloriously silly antics.
A parallel football universe where you don’t need to be a follower of the game, episodes are released on a semi-regular basis, and features like ‘Gangs of the EPL’ and Peter Beardsley’s morose monologues are fan favourites.
There aren’t many TV personalities who could make a show about learning how to fish a must-watch.
It’s not being pitched as a comedy, but you can expect plenty of daft tomfoolery between Mortimer and co-host Paul Whitehouse when Gone Fishing airs.
It’s being described in the same vein as The Trip, with two middle aged men gently exchanging witticisms over a relaxing hobby.
This time it happens to be tench fishing in Norfolk he’s concerned with, but Mortimer’s so irresistibly likeable he could be talking about pothole-filling and you’d still want to tune in.
Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing starts tonight (June 20) on BBC Two at 10pm
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This article originally appeared on our sister site, iNews.
[Main image: BBC]