The secret to Miranda's mass appeal across the age spectrum
Miranda Hart set for UK tour in 2014
A primary school pupil, cynical teenager, a grown-up and a pensioner. Finding ways to entertain that little lineup, and keep them in one room, would seem an impossibility. You’d have to be silly, cool, intelligent and old school all at the same time. In short, you’d have to be Miranda Hart.
Which is why, accompanied by my 12-year-old daughter, her 17-year-old big sister and my own (much) older sister, I’ll be heading to The Hydro this March to see Hart’s My, What I Call, Live Show, safe in the knowledge that she’ll hit the spot with all four of us. Having watched three series of her eponymous TV show together (some episodes several times over) and laughed at all the same bits, experience has shown that Hart is that rare commodity in modern day Britain: a family entertainer.
Each generation has its own comedy heroes, and what has one person catching their breath with laughter can leave another cold. I remember looking on with disdain as my sister chortled at Ever Decreasing Circles, and she had no interest in The Young Ones or Harry Enfield (my era). We all look mystified at my younger daughter as she giggles at CBBC’s Sadie J, and the teenager is still at the stage when only her friends make her laugh.
Yet sit us down in front of Miranda, and we’ll all get the same jokes, smile at the stupidity, guffaw at the ridiculous slapstick and long for the romance between her and Gary to work out. So what’s she getting right? ‘She does kiddy things like having fruit friends, rolling around on the floor to burst bubble wrap or playing the “where’s Miranda?” game,’ says 12-year-old Nancy. ‘And I like it when she says things like “I don’t do that” – then turns to the camera and says “I do do that”.’
Both the youngest and eldest of our party share the same favourite episode: Dog, in which Miranda demonstrates her new found self-defence skills by accidentally kicking a tray of food into the air. ‘I don’t know how many times I’ve seen that bit, and it always makes me laugh,’ says 60-year-old Joy. ‘I love slapstick humour, but I also like the fact that Miranda has a very clever script, one-liners and a bit of romance. It’s like Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em and the hapless Frank Spencer – it’s an exaggerated version of something that could happen to any of us in life.’
Miranda cites her comedy influences as Eric Morecambe, Tony Hancock, Joyce Grenfell, and French and Saunders – which pretty much sums up why I like her. She’s got the comic timing of Morecambe, the self-deprecation of Hancock, the witty words of Grenfell and the clever silliness of French and Saunders. Perhaps the best thing about Miranda the TV series, and the reason we all want to see her live on stage, is Miranda herself. She feels real – albeit in a larger than life kind of way.
‘She voices a lot of things that people think but don’t actually say because it’s embarrassing,’ says 17-year-old Poppy. ‘And she’s a good actress: but it’s her anyway, just exaggerated. Miranda’s very good at being a more funny version of herself.’
We’ve been told to expect ‘galloping, attempts at song and dance, and simply – such fun!’ from the live performance. A one-woman show devoid of all the sets, set-ups and fellow cast members we’ve come to expect from Miranda could easily lead to disappointment. With Miranda Hart, however, you know you’ll still get the heart and soul of the woman at the centre of it all. And that’s more than enough.
Miranda Hart: My, What I Call, Live Show, The Hydro, Glasgow, Mon 17 & Tue 18 Mar.