We shudder as we see ourselves in the paradoxically self-loathing character.

My dad claims he once got a call from Radio Norwich that went something like this:

Radio Norwich producer: Hi, this is [insert name] from Radio Norwich.

My dad: A-HA!

Radio Norwich producer: Hello?

My dad: [deflated] A-ha…?

Radio Norwich producer: Is that Jonathan?

My dad: Yes, sorry, I was referencing… never mind.

This was an Alan Partridge moment for almost too many reasons to count. For the many, many Brits aware of Steve Coogan’s recurring character – a maladroit local radio presenter with Jupiter-sized delusions of grandeur – the “A-ha” is Alan’s ABBA-referencing catchphrase. Radio Norwich, of course, is synonymous with Alan’s disintegrating career.

This week the BBC announced a new Partridge series, set to parody the corporation’s most Partridge-y institution: the One Show. The BBC, which seem set on self-parodying self-flagellation since John Morton’s sitcom W1A, described the new show as a “heady mix of news and froth”. This description – a perfect dig at the “And now an interview with a gangster rapping sheep”-style One Show – absolutely must have been written either by Steve Coogan himself, or the character and show’s co-creator Armando Iannucci.

My dad’s utterly ham-fisted attempt at a joke referenced Alan Partridge’s second TV incarnation, I’m Alan Partridge. And, in the most Partridge-esque way, it backfired before fizzling into a mildly embarrassing word sludge. But Partridge-ness – Partridgity, even – isn’t just a dad trait. Alan Partridge exists in us all, and that’s why he’s one of British comedy’s funniest creations.

Anybody who has ever tried to fit in by pretending to like a band (Alan on his favourite Beatles album: “I’d have to say [it’s] the best of the Beatles), or who has failed to find French circus performers funny can – with a pinch of self-loathing – relate to one of the most tactless and boorish creations of all time. And the self-loathing involved is an important part of this. Alan embodies that paradoxical British trait of simultaneously hating yourself, while also thinking you’re better than everyone. We shudder as we see ourselves in the character. A key reason why we can all laugh at the failed BBC chat show presenter-turned-provincial radio broadcaster, who plays at being suave, well connected and intellectual, is that, at some point, we’ve all pretended to be something we’re not. Who amongst us has never boasted about knowing a shit famous …read more

Source:: New Statesman

      

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In many ways, we are all Alan Partridge – which is why he’s still so funny

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