Adam Buxton’s Bug, The Junction, Cambridge 22nd July 2012

I’ve not been posting much recently, as I’ve been heavily pre-occupied (in a good way) with something else so haven’t had the chance to see or read or listen to much worth reporting on (although I have managed to get through the first season of Game Of Thrones, which provided suitably ludicrous light relief from my labours). I’m about to emerge blinking into the sunlight though, so this blog should start seeing more frequent updates than I’ve managed over the last month.

Something I did make a point of catching though was Adam Buxton’s Bug, a presentation of weird and wonderful videos that started off as an occasional show at the BFI on London’s South Bank and has now graduated to a TV show on Sky Atlantic. I haven’t got access to Sky, but as part of Cambridge’s Comedy Festival Adam appeared at The Junction on Sunday with a ninety minute version of the show.

Bug looks on paper like a pretty lazy concept – essentially a bunch of YouTube clips which don’t have much to do with each other, with some links and anecdotes to hold it together – but Buxton cares about his stuff and has put together an evening that’s both surprisingly slick and hi-tech, and pleasingly down-to-earth and accessible. Not to mention frequently hilarious. He cut his teeth as one half of the legendary Adam & Joe, who spent the 90s making fantastically funny and irreverent TV shows which sent up media pomposity with wit and no small invention, before embarking on a radio career that culminated in their legendary BBC 6music show that’s probably the funniest thing I’ve come across so far this century.

Adam & Joe are on indefinite hiatus while Joe Cornish pursues his promising career as a proper movie director. This is obviously a damn shame but at least Adam’s still around to entertain us with painstakingly collated weirdness and trivia, orchestrated via a Keynote presentation from his MacBook. The bulk of what he shows are videos to accompany terrifyingly cutting-edge dance tracks, and while the music is usually pretty challenging to my ears the visuals are generally eye-poppingly effective. We get retro board games being used to illustrate wave forms before being mutilated and minced, a gang of kids’ harmless shoot-out with toy weapons being transformed into something downright sinister with the addition of cartoon splurges of gore and a South African performance art couple’s bizarre take on an everyday instance of family conflict. Adam provides top quality added value by highlighting and sending up the witless and invariably terribly spelled comments that YouTube viewers have left – he’s irrepressibly exhibitionist in a lovely self-deprecatory way and his range of funny voices is, unusually for a comedian, genuinely hilarious. There are also some home movies and spoofs (Adam’s a pretty competent film-maker and knows some very talented directors so these are much slicker than you might expect from the description), a truly disturbing take on Gordon Ramsay’s inner cell structure, some conceptual art oddities (William Wegman’s synchronised weimaranas are mesmerising) and a piece called City Of Samba that renders the Rio carnival into something that looks like it’s being performed by stop motion models. This last isn’t funny at all but is definitely absolutely extraordinary. If anything there’s too much to take in and your head starts feeling over-stimulated, but the beauty is that you can watch everything again at home at your leisure afterwards. On the basis of this night out I’d recommend you watch the TV show if you’re at all interested in seeing what amazing visuals are possible to achieve with a bit of technology and a lot of imagination.

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