Matt Berry’s wonderfully surreal cult comedy goes to Hollywood


The last thing we saw Matt Berry‘s absurdist sitcom Toast of London – where he played the overwhelmingly pompous, under-employed actor Steven Toast – was back in 2015. Now transferred from Channel 4 to BBC Two, his comedy has received a Hollywood makeover in Toast of Tinseltown, allegedly because Berry thought the original was in danger of being repeated.

Not that we diehard fans were in danger of complaining, and at least the new series began in familiar territory. That is, in London, where Toast conducts humiliating voiceover work for Clem Fandango (Shazad Latif) – recording an English audiobook for an American author played by none other than Larry David.

The show has apparently picked up an impressive American fan club since it aired on Netflix, judging by this and other celebrities (who remain spoiler-free, I will not mention).

Still in London, Toast found himself once again competing with arch-rival Ray Purchase (Harry Peacock) – this time for a role in a new Star Wars movie – and ended up with Purchase being defenestrated from the first floor of his drinking club (a delicious parody of Sohos kolonirum).

Matt Berry has taken Toast stateside – what a pampering the humor and humiliations remain happily unchanged (Photo: Objective Fiction / Ben Meadows / BBC)

After Toast karate-hacked her desk in two, his agent Jane Plow (Doon Mackichan) sent him on a course in anger management led by guru Des Wigwam (played by Berry’s). What we do in the shadows co-star Kayvan Novak).

The intervention worked, which led Toast to apologize to everyone he had been mean to – including telling Purchase that he was sorry to have slept with his wife every week for the past 20 years. It did not end well.

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Clem Fandango, Ray Purchase, Jane Plow, Des Wigwam … one of the series’ glories is the character names that Berry and co-creator Arthur Matthews have dreamed of (Far Ted). And we can now add to this list Russ Nightlife – an American (played by Saturday Night Live regular Fred Armisen), whom Toast met at the end of the episode on the plane to LA and will continue to be his new landlord in Tinseltown (all episodes are now available on iPlayer).

Our teapot hero may have traveled over 5,000 miles, but the humiliations and the surrealistic humor are pleasingly unchanged.

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