An Evening with Chevy Chase

Saturday 13th January 2018

Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom

Pete Connors/Twitter

The ‘An Evening With’ concept is not a new idea but it has been used with many people from various walks of life; comedians, radio presenters, politicians, musicians and film stars. The idea of being in intimate surroundings with an individual you admire, respect and enjoy is something that appeals to many people.

From an organiser/promoter point of view you can charge big bucks for this type of show by having endless price tiers and VIP experiences whether that be a photo op, a quick meet and greet, up close seats, a lovely champagne and nibbles session or a chance to get a goody bag which includes the default VIP Tour laminate which doesn’t actually get you access to anywhere remotely interesting or cool.

However, tonight was a one-off evening with the legend that is Chevy Chase at the famous Eventim Apollo in the heart of Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom. I opted for the standard ticket in the stalls no frills so I’m unable to comment about the meet and greet package. However, I am aware that it cost roughly an ADDITIONAL £140 each on top of the price of a ticket. Oh and don’t get me started on the £3.00 fee I had to pay for box office collection… In the words of my father whenever we approached a cinema snack stand, “Absolute robbers! They should be wearing masks!”

Arriving at the venue, the staff were selling exclusive Chevy Chase event programmes for £10 each and as this was a unique evening myself and my party decided to purchase one. This piece of merchandise was effectively a regurgitated Wikipedia entry surrounded by photos of Chase from several classic films and it was not proof-read.

The stalls looked pretty packed but from where we were you couldn’t really see the people in the circle area. In terms of staging, you had two pristine white sofas positioned either side of a table covered in bottles of water (none of which were drunk) and a pot of flowers. It had a waiting room kind of vibe but hey, at least they have a screen hanging above them. Perhaps we would see some exclusive never before seen clips? Or a DVD commentary set-up with Chevy talking us through scenes?

Of course, when Chevy’s films were released the idea of DVDs with director’s commentary and bonus features wasn’t a thing so that could have been a key USP for this show. Unfortunately that was not the case as we waited for the star to appear having missed the 7.30pm cue. The lights went down at quarter to eight and the crowd began cheering and clapping and on walked the man himself… Mike Read. (He had not been mentioned when I bought these tickets)

Yes Mike Read. You know Mike Read? He’s the man who joined BBC Radio 1 in November 1978 and then tried to get Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Relax’ banned by the BBC which in turn helped it skyrocket to number one in the charts. He has provided rapping on Slade’s 1991 UK Top 30 radio hit ‘Radio Wall of Sound’ as well. The things I learnt in this programme.

Wearing a holiday camp host blue suit that even Postman Pat would run away from, Read greeted the crowd smiling whilst calling himself a legend and telling us he would play some guitar. This awkward intro then transitioned into a series of edited clips from Chevy’s films before the ‘real’ legend himself walked on to a rapturous applause.

Chase and Reed sat apart on different sofas and began chatting about musician and Chase’s friend Paul Simon. Well at least I think that was what they were talking about as the sound in the 3,500 capacity venue was to be frank abysmal. It might have worked for a barn dance in a village hall but not at the Eventim Apollo with people paying top dollar for an insightful conversation. But it seemed that no one onstage even realised that the sound was having problems and they just continued talking.

As the sound got worse, the crew finally stepped in with microphones much to the relief of the paying audience.

“Do you play music?” Read asked. Chase explained that he plays piano (but that is not his job). But that wasn’t the answer Read wanted as he went onto ask if Chase remembered a song that featured in ‘The Three Amigos’ which was released in 1986 – thirty two years ago. Well Read got out his acoustic guitar which was placed by his sofa and began playing whilst Chase tried to remember the words. As several people have already commented on social media it was ‘full-on Alan Partridge’ and ‘just like David Brent’. Still it could have been worse, Reed could’ve treated us to his UKIP Calypso song with faux-Caribbean accent or worse still brought on DIY SOS host/Crooner Nick Knowles for an uncomfortable sing-along, so every cloud…….

We did get to hear stories of Chase, (Martin) Short and (Steve) Martin playing Scrabble in a trailer during filming as ‘Marty would cheat and hand a letter back’. His impressions of his co-stars were spot on and it was fun to hear that his favourite part in the movie was “Do you have anything besides Mexican food?” The audience loved those moments when he would quote these classic lines and it was a shame that he couldn’t of spent the evening just doing that as it would have been funnier than the arcane and dark questions that were to come.

“What do you think of your ancestors?” Reed continued in front of bemused Chase who may well have thought several times he was on an edition of ‘Punk’d’. The screen lit up with a picture of a William Brewster who sailed on The Mayflower many years ago. “Well I have three daughters so I don’t really live in the past and think about my ancestors.” Chase replied. But Reed was having known of it and continued to dig into his family history very much like Tony Robinson whose career as we know has long been in ruins.

“Do you still play tennis?” patronised Read as a frosty response was shot back “Well I’m 74 but I can still move!” Looking for a way out of his self-made hole, Reed opted for a series of questions collected from audience members (i.e. accomplices to this disaster) before the show. “Which Marvel/DC/Star Wars character would you be?” However, Chase saved this segment by pulling out a series of his own questions and telling the crowd “I have a question from someone in Liverpool and in answer to your question if you are going blind then you are doing it right!”

“How are your haemorrhoids?” Read quizzed. This is supposed to be an entertaining Q&A not a doctor’s appointment!

He still went down the music route though and played a selection of clips by Chameleon Church (a band that Chase was in) on the screen much to the crowd’s confusion. Although, I did find Chase’s comments about being in a band with Donald Fagen and the late Walter Becker before Steely Dan fascinating.

Several topics were omitted including his television work on series such as ‘Law and Order’, ‘Brothers and Sisters’, ‘Chuck’ and ‘Community’ all of which would’ve been interesting avenues of conversation in my humble opinion.

Chase did tell us about his new Netflix original comedy feature ‘The Last Laugh’ which he stars alongside Richard Dreyfuss as a talent manager and that it is now in post-production.

Chase admitted that he turned down several films including ‘Forest Gump’, ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘American Beauty’ amongst others but a person cannot say yest to everything.

“Do you have to remind yourself you are a legend?” was simply Reed trying to suck up to the star and Chevy Chase is too smart and classy a guy to fall for such fake flattery.

“You’re going to be in Paris tomorrow is that right?” Mike Read questioned like he was working for Immigration control. He is here in the flesh right now though Mike so ask him some better questions.

Then BAM – out of nowhere Read went in with ‘What do you think of kids who take drugs?’ much to the anger of the audience who quite rightly provided a cascade of boos. To Chase’s credit he didn’t get up and leave but answered with a very honest response. That is why people have time for Chevy Chase.

But it was the “Do you have any favourite catchphrases?” that received the biggest laugh of the evening as a disgruntled audience member shouted “Mike Read you’re a T**t!”

With that (and barely an hour on the clock) Read stormed off like a petulant child leaving Chase standing onstage by himself as he received a standing ovation. Chase said thank you and threw his microphone onto his sofa before walking on into the night.

The promoter Rocco Buonvino really needs to sit down and perform a proper post-event autopsy of the evening so that this ‘car crash in slow-motion’ doesn’t occur with any other film stars and personalities. I only say that because on the last page of the programme a picture of Whoopi Goldberg read “She’s Back! October 2018”.

In conclusion, this was a unique event that people who weren’t there will say they attended but for all of the wrong reasons. They didn’t play any intro music like Paul Simon’s ‘Call Me Al’ or the theme from ‘Caddyshack’, they didn’t say “Live from London it’s Saturday night!” to kick off the evening and they created a tense atmosphere with Mike Read’s confusing and at times out of order questions. They should’ve acquired the services of a respected film critic like Danny Leigh or Mark Kermode or a clever radio personality like LBC’s Steve Allen or Talk Radio’s Iain Lee to really get the best out of the legend that is and always will be Chevy Chase.

Glenn Sargeant


Feature Image Credit: Pete Connors/Twitter

Poster Credit: Chrissic Studios

Chevy Chase is on Twitter here: