In the recent BBC2 comedy The Trip Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon played 'loose versions' of themselves, improvising their dialogue, to a simple plot structure of a trip reviewing restaurants in North England. Coogan, or rather Coogan's character of Coogan, was in a continual state of petty competition with Brydon's (an excellent example can be seen below). They duelled mostly over voice impersonations, but also athletic ability, vocal range, even comedic prowess. Coogan remained harshly and childishly critical of Brydon's performances, always seeking to prove himself as the more talented, the more knowledgeable, and the funnier. In these attempts he ultimately fails. Brydon trumps unwillingly - content with his career, family, and achievements. Coogan struggles on - frustrated with his self-implied shortcomings: in one scene, he whines to his agent about wanting to star in 'good films'; in another he attempts to mimic Brydon's popular 'small man in a box' in front of the mirror; in others we see evidence of his problematic family and love life. All of which culminates in the final scenes of the series, where Brydon returns to his wife and child in a warm home, whilst Coogan finds himself alone in a stylish and cold London flat.
Steve Coogan (left) and Rob Brydon in The Trip
In his performance, Steve Coogan is ridiculing his own desire to be revered. He is drawing attention to this complex that he has (or at least that his celebrity self has) and then self-critiquing it with mockery. Hence this version of Steve Coogan who toils for fame and high regard only to be revealed as a fool and a failure. However, it's not a definite depression, but more of a tragic comedy, Coogan and Brydon do enjoy each other's company, and the show is very funny.
The significance for me, lies in Coogan's conscious decision to face, challenge, and excoriate an issue of his own public (and to many degrees, private) personality, and his use of humour in exposing it. This is why the actor Steve Coogan's portrayal of the character of Steve Coogan, is relevant to my research.
'This is how Michael Caine speaks', The Trip BBC2