As I watched episode one of Steve Coogan’s spoof chat show Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge, I got the deja-vu tingles. In 2014, the City Winery put on an event in which the guest of honor was to be Steve Coogan, except that he didn’t show up and they tried to patch him in via Skype, which worked for a minute and then technology failed and the host tried to save it by saying how great it was that Coogan could do this, but the audience felt gypped because we’d been promised him in the flesh and for more than a minute. Apparently, twenty years previously, the central gag of episode one of his spoof chat show was that the guest of honor Roger Moore didn’t show up, so they patched him through with the telephone linkup, he spoke to him for a brief moment, but the telephone line cut out. Partridge tries to save the calamity by saying, “He was on the show!” Keith Hunt, one of the other guests, played by Patrick Marber, voices the collective thoughts of the City Winery in 2014: “That doesn’t count!”
Steve Coogan is a radio, television, and film actor, as well as more recently a cinema writer. Alan Partridge is still his most iconic character. He is currently working on the third Trip movie with fellow impressionist comedian Rob Brydon.
You would think that this spoof format would get old by the end of the first episode, but the shambles (all of which are plausible if you haven’t been in the chat show business long enough to avoid it) escalate from a horse taking a dump on the stage to a custody battle to an all-girl punk band destroying the set by eating the pears out of the decorative fruit bowl. Like real chat shows, Partridge has sections with titles like “Up my Sleeve,” where he brings out a surprise. Like real chat shows, there’s meaningless expensive tat everywhere (Partridge tries to at one point explain the metaphorical significance of the fountain in the background). Like real chat shows *cough* Graham *cough* they’ve overbooked, so not all the guests can fit on the couch. But Partridge is either self-aware or too daft to hide any of the subtleties of chat show etiquette. (They do a piece with Hunt that makes it look like Partridge has dug up a newspaper story on Hunt, but then he hands the paper back to him, saying, “Thanks for bringing that in.”) As someone who hates all the extra bits that aren’t interview in chat shows, seeing Coogan take the mickey out of the format is an absolute delight to me.
The guests are usually fictional people played by Rebecca Front, Steve Brown, Patrick Marber, David Schneider, and Doon Mackichan. It’s co-written by The Thick of It‘s Armando Iannucci, Steve Coogan, and Patrick Marber.