Guardian Review 2003

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“Aspiring character comics would do well to come worship at the altar of Count Arthur Strong”
The Guardian, 2003

Last year, he failed to deliver a lecture on “Egyptologics”. This year it’s the story of the Bible that Count Arthur Strong is finding difficult to tell. Steve Delaney’s creation is what the Count might call “head and soilders” above the competition. This billious show-biz has been with a slippery grip on reality must be the most perfectly formed comic character on the fringe. Too well realised for some tastes – Delaney steers the Count into the darker regions of senility, where you have to laugh to keep the horror at bay.

The Count struggles – oh, how he struggles! – to keep up the appearance of a well-bred old school gent. But his aloholism, his amnesia and his Doncaster roots keep showing. The Biblical lecture is characteristically bathetic.”God called the light day” says the Count “just like we do”. He has no truck with Darwin “I’ve read his book, The Naked Civil Servant,” hisses the Count, before bellowing out a correction “The Naked Ape!”. Now, the digressions have started. Wartime service with Richard Briers. An argument with a Dictaphone. “Come on, the powers-that-be” implores the Count “Pull your sock up!”.

I wondered if Delaney would manage to top last year’s coup de theatre with a ventriloquist’s mummy. Suffice to say, his re-creation of the Last Supper would curdle communion wine. You won’t learn much about the Bible – but aspiring character comics would do well to come and worship at the altar of Count Arthur Strong.



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