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Friday, 18 April 2014 00:00

'Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa' provides belly laughs + Video

'Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa' provides belly laughs
Written by Martha K. Baker
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Just when you thought you'd never laugh again, along comes "Alan Partridge" to remind you that laughter is cleansing, purging, releasing. That laughter, welling up from the belly, is not only the best medicine but also pretty darn cheap. Alan Partridge has been a character played by Steve Coogan for years in various media. 

Alan Partridge is about as far from the role of the reporter that Steve Coogan played in "Philomena," which he also produced last year, but very near the hysterically funny role he played in "The Trip," a version of himself (see Stephen Colbert).

The title character is, you see, a "d joc," short for disc jockey in a world where shortening is allowed -- in both meanings of the word. The jokes and quizzes on air are larded. For example, the d jocs du jour of the day ask their listeners, "Which is the worst monger: iron, fish or war?" Then they mutter, "It's pretty clear" as if it is. There is no dead air, ever.

Partridge is on in the day with his sidekick Simon, played well by Tim Key; the sleepy-time slot, 10 to 12, is filled by a man named Pat, played very well by Colm Meany. Their station has been taken over by corporate creeps to create a multi-platform delivery system, not the radio that Alan and Simon and Pat love. Okay, maybe they love themselves more, especially Alan, who drives a new car with the words "Alan Partridge Drives This KIA" painted on the side. So maybe they love the perks and boodle. Anyway, they love, and that's what matters, really, isn't it?

Never mind why, but Pat takes over the station in an armed siege ("What's your favorite siege?" the d joc asks the listeners. "Let's just consult the Penguin Book of Sieges, he suggests referentially). So Alan is forced to be a hero as he works with the police in defusement -- and amusement. It's all a farce, literally, as doors open and heads explode. Coogan has to work every aspect of physical comedy known to man and clown at the same time he is working his mouth through the script he wrote with half-a-dozen others -- and here, too many cooks do not spoil this soup. There are Walter Mitty moments and James Bond fantasies, along the way. It helps that Coogan has been perfecting this role over nearly a decade of exposure. Coogan IS Alan Partridge. And he is tremendous.

"Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa," directed by Declan Lowney, will cure what ails ya, for, it is written, laughter is the best medicine. Just digest this.

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