Do you have a Brit-humor-obsessed friend who pesters you to get in line and admit once and for all that Steve Coogan is a comedy god? Maybe he’s shoved one of Coogan’s Alan Partridge videos in your hands to get you up to speed on the egomaniacally obnoxious, socially inept talk-show-host character that has made Coogan a deity in the U.K., or dragged you to a movie theater to see Coogan’s star turn in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. That person is a good friend.
But if you’ve ignored the pleas, let me speak for your friend and tell you that you can get in on the ground floor Friday night with Coogan’s newest character, Tommy Saxondale. He’s a bearded, cantankerous, acrimoniously divorced ex-roadie with one fist still raised in rebellion, the other around a pesticide hose. Tommy has left the world of Jim Beam breakfasts, rock-star chumminess and changing Peter Frampton’s vocoder fuse for the life of a vermin killer. And why not? Music has gone in the crapper since “electronic bleeps and farts” replaced awesome fret work, according to Tommy, but he clings to the notion that even from his comfortable suburban existence with shop-owner girlfriend Magz (Ruth Jones), he can still do his part to give the finger to authority. Tommy’s idea of therapeutic betterment? Calmly telling the session leader in his court-ordered anger-management class that the notion of anger being bad is “horseshit”: If General MacArthur’s reaction to Pearl Harbor had been “to go someplace quiet and do some deep breathing,” he insists, “you’d be goose-stepping into this meeting!” Rock and roll!?