My Comedy Hero: Colin Hoult on Steve Martin and John Candy (with a little bit of Rowan Atkinson thrown in)
- Brian Donaldson
- 28 March 2018
Through his creation Anna Mann, Colin Hoult is wondering How We Stop The Fascists all over the UK. The former one half of Colin & Fergus picks the stars of an iconic 80s US comedy movie as his comic idols
I have a lot of comedy heroes but I think the ones I'll go for today are Steve Martin and John Candy, specifically in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I had this on video when I was a kid: I think it was the only comedy I watched religiously alongside Labyrinth and The Transformers: The Movie. I think I watched it every day for about two years: how did I have so much time?! What I wouldn't give to just watch the same film over and over again now. I think I wrote on it: 'don't tape over or you'll get it'. I'm not sure what I meant by that.
Anyway it's a beautiful movie with two beautiful leads: Steve Martin as the sour, pissed-off 'straight man' (although, of course, extremely funny) and John Candy as the annoying but horribly vulnerable and lonely funny guy who latches onto him. I think they might be the perfect double act, and in everything I've done I've always instinctively tried to work out who's the Martin and who's the Candy in any situation or even within a joke. They're that iconic to me.
Of course I remember the movie more for the moving and sad moments, but I think they're only earned because the comedy is so spot on. And sometimes it's unbearably raw. When Candy says 'You want to hurt somebody: go ahead, I'm an easy target', it's so tragically comic, kind of like a prototype David Brent. I only really got into Steve Martin's stand-up more recently and it took me ages to connect that crazy clown stuff with the man I always saw as this incredibly sharp and cynical character. Not unlike my other big hero Rowan Atkinson and the fact he played Blackadder and Mr Bean: perfect performances of two utterly different characters.
If you haven't seen the film you really should, despite the hilariously bad 80s remix-type song at the end where they sample the dialogue. Also there's a weird scene at the end where Steve Martin seems to snog his wife for about five minutes in front of his entire family. There was a film recently called Due Date which was a total rip-off but everyone was really gross and unpleasant in it. I think it just doesn't work if the characters aren't truly lovable and gorgeous like those boys.
Honestly, I'm weeping now just thinking about it. There's a beautiful bit near the end where they get a lift in the back of a freezer truck and Candy says 'We're moving now.' I often say it to myself when I'm feeling lost and confused by life and it sort of sets me back on track. Thanks John Candy and Steve Martin!
Colin Hoult as Anna Mann in How We Stop The Fascists is on tour until Sunday 27 May.