The Call of Now - Brian Butterfield at the Glee Club
Brian Butterfield, The Glee Club Birmingham, 13 September 2023
Review by David Court
Many of you may already be familiar with the name of comedian Peter Serafinowicz, even if you struggle to spell his surname. He’s been a regular fixture on movie and TV screens since 1999, appearing in such films as ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and ‘John Wick 2’ but perhaps best known for voicing Darth Maul in the ‘Star Wars’ series of movies.
His superlative comedy series – ‘The Peter Serafinowicz Show’ - ran from October 2007 to December 2018, and featured a host of hilarious characters – but none stood out so much as his comedic creation Brian Butterfield, the haplessly naïve and hopeless businessman. Forever promoting his ill-thought-out capitalist misadventures (typically broken or cheap versions of ideas or technologies that already exist), this overweight entrepreneur was always destined for greater things.
And now the world is lucky enough to experience the man himself in person, as Brian (assisted by Peter Serafinowicz) travels the length, breadth, width, and depth of the United Kingdom with his 'Brian Butterfield (Placeholder Name)', sharing all his copiously vast business experience.
The evening of the 13th of September 2023 saw Brian’s debut at the Glee Club in Birmingham. It was a full house, with an expectant audience clearly keen to pick up some of Brian’s business acumen. After a short video introducing the character and the topic of the seminar to follow, Brian bounded on stage – and then bounded as quickly off stage, high-fiving the applauding audience with only two stops to take a breath.
I’m not typically a fan of the style of comedy of characters performing a seminar – Alan Partridges ‘Stratagem’ tour being a case in point – but in this case, it genuinely works. There’s a rich comedy mine to be plundered with the inherent daftness of such situations (with all their buzz words and trite mock inspirational speeches) and coupled with the equal eccentricity of Butterfield, it’s something very special.
Over the evening we’ll hear from a variety of sponsors (and disgruntled customers of the oblivious Butterfield) and hear about the rise and fall and fall and fall of his business empire. We’ll be introduced to Brian’s state-of-the-art artificial intelligence software (Bri-A.I-an), try to win his backing in ‘Brian’s Den’ and – weather permitting – get to see him join the ranks of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in the launching of his very own rocket.
It's a comedy masterclass, and the audience are 100% along for the journey. Like the Garth Marenghi character of Matthew Holness on his recent book signing tour, he remains in character for the entirety of the evening – and what a comedic character he is. Eminently quotable, it’s a comedy gig that I can thoroughly recommend.
The Brian Butterfield Placeholder Name tour continues throughout September and October 2023 and tickets are available from https://www.brianbutterfield.co.uk