A Whole Lifetime: Review. In a recent interview, Jamie Demetriou described his latest offering, a Netflix Special entitled A Whole Lifetime, as a sketch show.
It would seem that Demetriou was trying out a new format for a sketch show by, as the logline puts it, ‘Journeying through life’s stages with Jamie Demetriou in a musical sketch-comedy special.” But it isn’t a sketch show as such, it’s more like a compilation of shorts. And not very funny ones at that.
So how one reviewer could write ‘I laughed harder – and for longer – than I can remember’ adding ‘Comedy doesn’t get more punishingly funny or magnificent than this’. Well, I can certainly agree with the use of punishingly but nothing else. Demetriou has almost reached full cult status with followers who believe he can do no wrong. He does have an inherent comedic talent but King Midas he isn’t. Sometimes even cultist have to accept that some things just don’t work. A Whole Lifetime is one such thing.
After establishing the concept with a conversation in a womb It moves onto a 6 minute ‘sketch’ featuring a teenage couple in the boy’s bedroom. Some amusing true to life moments that most parents of mobile phone addicted teenagers would identify with but it just went on far too long. An updated version of Kevin and Perry (not going large) which frankly became boring. Then we have an idiot entering his office multiple times with the same result. Funny slapstick event once, or twice, but not for two repetitive minutes. Much better for this to have been interspersed throughout the show in short bursts, á la Fast Show /Catherine Tate, but then that wouldn’t have fitted with his concept.
Then we were subjected to a 6 minute plus ‘best man sketch’ that simply wasn’t funny so much as embarrassing. Almost cringeworthy in fact. Cringeworthy can work but this didn’t. The Alan Partridge spoof at a Royal wedding couldn’t even be saved by Katy Wix : an unhinged psychopath at a barbeque: a parody of Love Island type programmes: a bored long term married couple and so it went on through death before reverting back to Demetriou in the womb and a musical ensemble finish.
The concept of A Whole Lifetime was ‘journeying through life’s stages’ but they were stages of different people’s life times. It wasn’t one man going from the womb to death. It was instead, a series of disparate characters and unrelated sketch ideas wrapped up in incoherent packaging.
Demetriou is a comic talent, of that there is no doubt. As an actor, his character Walt in The Afterparty is excellent, likewise in Paddington 2 and Fleabag . Not so much in The Moth Club but of course Stath Lets Flats, which he also created and wrote, has achieved critical acclaim and a raft of awards, however, and I know it’s a lazy overused cliché, Demetriou is Marmite.
A Whole Lifetime is very much an acquired taste. A taste for which I, and I expect many others, have no appetite.