Hit the Road Jack is Jack Whitehall’s attempt to move his career forward to T.V. personality from “that posh one”, who appears on panel shows such Mock the Week or 8 out of 10 Cats. Other stand up comedians have had their own programmes such as Kevin Bridges’ What’s the Story? Or John Bishop’s John Bishop’s Great Britain. Does Jack match the standard of these household names? Well, he certainly has a good go at it.
Jack Whitewall entered the comedy circuit wowing audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, following this up with appearances on panel shows alongside well established stand up comedians. Jack used his middle class background to his advantage and turned it into his strength, making fun of himself and his upbringing. This gave him a distinctive voice which he uses to bring his own brand of public school boy tomfoolery to our television screens. Jack really made a name for himself when he again embraced his ‘little posh boy’ image and exaggerated it, for his part as J.P in Channel 4’s comedy Fresh Meat.
The recipe for Hit the Road Jack is a mixture of hidden camera sketches, chat show, stand up, music and reality documentary segments. I applaud Jack for trying to showcase all his skills, but for a 25 minute programme it seems a bit too much. Jack visits different parts of the UK, where the show is recorded locally and a celebrity from the area is invited on for a chat. He also stays with a local family and they set him tasks to see if he can fit in with the locals. For the opening programme, Jack was in Wales, where Ruth Jones was invited for a chat, about Wales, that lasted for only a couple of minutes. Then the segment is shown where Jack stays with a Welsh family, where to fit in, he sings with a male voice Welsh choir, and appears on a local Welsh soap. Each segment only lasts a few minutes and the show feels very rushed. I would have liked to have seen more of his stay with the local family for example. I would suggest either extending the show next series or cutting the unnecessary music acts.
The series does seem to get better as it goes on. In Newcastle, Jack dons a wig and fake nose to pose as a movie director, recruiting Geordie Shore cast members for the imaginary film “Bees 3D”. He manages to extract gold from them, as a female cast member admits she hasn’t read Shakespeare, “I read Katie Price. Katie Price is Shakespeare for girls.” In Glasgow, Jack is joined by actors John Hannah, and fellow Fresh Meat co-star Greg McHugh. Upon discussing the famous fried food of Glasgow, John Hannah states “You have to have something that you can eat in the rain, and the rain will run off.” – seems logical.
The best bit of the show has to be Jack’s Dad. Mr Whitehall senior is filmed, having had a bit to drink, and is asked his opinion about the different regions that Jack is visiting, and how Jack will fare in each. As a result of this we warm to Jack further as his Dad rips him apart saying he wouldn’t survive in Glasgow, and rants about how disappointed he and Jack’s mother are with Jack for not finishing University, and proceeds to rub it in that his sister has exceeded him in that respect.
Whether you like Jack or not, his show is worth a watch. You have the jokes, but it’s also entertaining to see Jack embarrassed in a variety of ways. How can you not like a guy who is willing to put himself in such humiliating situations? Catch Hit the Road Jack, on Tuesdays, Channel 4 at 10.30pm.