Saturday 17 August 2019

Nowhere Fast review: 'If you enjoyed Fleabag or Sharon Horgan’s stuff, you’ll probably love Alison Spittle's new comedy'

Nowhere Fast starring Alison Spittle starts on RTE 2 on Monday at 10pm
Nowhere Fast starring Alison Spittle starts on RTE 2 on Monday at 10pm
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Millennial, millennial, millennial. Is there a more overworked concept in modern culture than the travails of millennials?

I don’t remember, say, back in the nineties, that every second documentary, news story and TV drama or comedy was about Generation X. Having said that, there are quite a lot of things I don’t remember about the nineties. Such as, for example, much of the nineties. But I digress.

Nowhere Fast, a new sitcom created by and starring comedian Alison Spittle, is about millennials: specifically here, our heroine Angela, who gets fired from her dream job in a Dublin radio station after slandering a pompous commentator and is forced to return to her Midlands home.

Not just her hometown, now: being unemployed and skint, Angela must move back in with her mother, stepfather and sister. We get the impression that she hated living here as a kid and couldn’t wait to leave, so coming back is a horror.

Alison Spittle
Alison Spittle

Tonight’s first episode set the scene, introducing us to Angela’s family, friends and a small selection of townspeople. The set-piece scenes revolved around a night out on the lash with her old mates, sweet-natured Bríd and brash bowsy Mary.

Spittle is a well-regarded comedian and familiar figure from her radio work. So how did this entrée into the world of scripted comedy go?

It was – okay. Not great, not awful, but okay.

We should insert here a quick proviso: it’s hard to judge anything, be it serious or funny, on one episode alone. That taken into account, Nowhere Fast showed promise, was well-acted and staged, and proved intermittently funny – though not funny enough, and often enough, for my liking.

Actually, maybe a second proviso is needed here. I think viewers of comedy can essentially be broken down into two main camps: those who like shows with character progression, narrative arcs and something to say about the state of the world…and people like me, who basically don’t care if the show is about anything or makes any kind of point or observation, so long as it’s funny, pretty much all the time.

Nowhere Fast is the former type of show; and it should attract, and hold, an audience. People will invest in Angela, they’ll follow her story and want to know how it all pans out, while being entertained and amused along the way.

And there were some good gags (the ould lad bushy-drinking with Angela’s sister, the stilted non-conversation with Bríd’s incredibly taciturn brother, Angela’s affronted insistence that she didn’t get fired – but rather, her actions caused the entire station to be sued into bankruptcy).

As I say, though, I’m in the other camp. I generally prefer stupid-but-brilliant comedy – shows such as Archer, Drawn Together, Bridget and Eamon, and Beavis & Butthead, or films like Ace Ventura, The Naked Gun, Anchorman and Shaun of the Dead – where there are few lessons learned, hardly any character progression and all the depth of a kiddies’ paddling pool.

But they’re really, really, reeeeeally goddamn funny. From minute one to end credits, it’s a deluge of excellent jokes, be they visual, verbal or whatever else. That’s what I want from comedy, indeed it’s all I want: that it makes me laugh.

So whether or not you enjoy Nowhere Fast, I think, will ultimately depend on which camp you mostly belong to. If you enjoyed, say, Fleabag or Sharon Horgan’s stuff, you’ll probably love this – and more power to you.

Anyway, I’m off now to try and remember some things from the nineties. Flares and Back to the Future were that decade, right?

Read more: Alison Spittle: The bright lights of country life

'You can get on with him and you can be shocked with what he said' - Comedian Alison Spittle on George Hook 

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