The Cambridge Geek

The World of Simon Rich

Missed the first series of this, so going to have to jump in at the second. Luckily, that doesn't matter, as this is all very much standalone. Akin to Michael Frayn's Pocket Playhouse, it's a collection of short pieces by a single author, acted out by a nice range of people.

There's four stories here, covering a range of time and topics. "Chip" is the working life of Chip, an office admin bot and his adventures when he discovers he's being replaced by Chip2. (Also his friendship with an underappreciated colleague.) Then there's "Form Letter", a rather brief piece that consists of the writing of a standard letter of sympathy to a customer, with occasional interjections to indicate the addition of customised elements.

"The Baby" is a slightly tortuous fiction about a soon to be father's relationship with the unborn child who is already a better novelist than he is, and "On Hanging" is a consideration of the process involved in writing your last words. And whether you might use them to curse an audience.

Chip is probably my favourite, including as it does both the trope of someone not understanding human actions, while narrating comical things happening, and the pleasingly criminal Paula, who is perfectly willing to take advantage. Form Letter nicely doesn't overstay its welcome, and has a rather brilliant midword shift that was unexpected. It is built around some excellent cynicism.

Less impressed with The Baby, mainly because it ran on a little too long, and didn't really seem to be quite sure what it was doing. Can't decide if it's meant to be a study of the frailty of human ego, or the oddness of getting a typewriter into a womb. This might be the old problem of writers writing about writing. It gets a bit self-referential. On Hanging was a decent finisher, mostly because of the presentation.

Definitely pleasantly familiar voices here, and none of them are going to fluff any of it. On the whole, a solid work, with enough novelty in it to keep me listening.

Score 4

Tagged: Radio Comedy Cast Sketch Anthology