It has 65m downloads and counting. It claims the record for the biggest live podcast audience ever. It sold out the London Palladium and is heading for the O2. By any measure, Sh**ged Married Annoyed is a phenomenon, and I wish it well. But do I wish ever again to watch it live on stage? Reader, I do not.
That’s not to gainsay Chris and Rosie Ramsey’s charms as our hosts, which are considerable. The podcast’s success surely lies in this couple-next-door’s relatability, but also their rude but loving camaraderie. Who wouldn’t want to spend time with (who wouldn’t want to be?) a husband and wife who make each other laugh this much? Chris may be the professional comedian, but Rosie is no slouch, fashioning a live dinosaur cartoon from a recording of her husband’s snoring, or playing her alter egos Belinda and Barry Beef on an upstage screen.
The show, like the podcast, comprises recurring features such as What’s Your Beef?, on the things that most annoy Chris and Rosie (and couples in the audience) about one another, and Questions from the Public, which solicits outrageous anecdotes from fans. Tonight, we hear about a man who wanks into the air conditioning coolant at a branch of Boots, a father “teabagging” a woman’s one-night-stand, and a hospital patient with an iPhone charger lodged stubbornly up his backside.
The Ramseys never knowingly underreact to these stories: each is greeted with expansive displays of hilarity from both. But then, they know how to sell stuff, closing the first half with a shameless five-minute advertorial for their online styling service sponsor. To this old Bill Hicks fan, that felt like a civilisational Rubicon being crossed – but no one else seemed to mind.
Advertising aside, it jollies along: I can easily imagine this ribald back-and-forth forming a perky backdrop to a run in the park, doing the ironing or making a cup of tea. But does it reward the quality of engagement that comes with live performance? Two hours in, their story about the mother who slices up her constipated poo with a knife and fork felt to me like too much of a mildly amusing thing.
Touring until 21 December.