Craig Charles Live On Earth was released in 1995. Craig Charles’ Sickbag was released in 2000. You’d have thought he’d have come up with some new material in five years…
Actually, the task for coming up with new material was delegated – Craig’s name doesn’t appear in the ‘written by’ credits of either video. But still, Craig can be held responsible for the awful performance of the gags, particularly in Sickbag, where it really is quite disturbing to see the star of your favourite programme chain-smoking and giggling idiotically. Both videos have specially recorded and heavily scripted intro sequences, featuring Craig talking to Russell Bell (the real writer of The Log). Interestingly, in Live On Earth, Craig seems to be under the impression that going to prison for a bit makes him an honourary gangster. Yes, you’ve got a prop gun. Very grown up. Both of the actual shows also start with a fake heckler, whom Craig deals with by using a string of pre-prepared put downs. The sheer obviousness of the set-up is embarrassing.
I’d like to just set one thing straight – Sickbag isn’t actually that sick. After a few early jokes about paedophilia, it’s just ropey old stand-up, with the word ‘fuck’ dotted about, randomly. The whole “aren’t I rude?” shtick is a publicity stunt, and the actual content of the video is just bland. £1.99 from the bargain bucket at Woolworths seems extortionate.
In fairness, Live On Earth has its good points. Craig is a good poet, and the verses recited here, including two of my favourites – George McGee and Bully For You, are excellent. Craig also does a lot of material about jail, and when you consider that he’d only been released for a few months when he performed it, it gives the jokes a daring and risky edge, much more so that saying ‘fuck’ a few times in Sickbag.
Craig Charles is rubbish at stand-up. His performance is poor, his persona isn’t likeable, and his material is dull and repetitive. Incidentally, Craig has now used the dildonics joke in The Log, Red Dwarf A-Z and Sickbag. What next?
“We’ve heard about faxes to Canada and computerized whores, ’cause I’ve done the dildonics joke (kiss fingers) on Robot Wars! G’bye!”