There are many things that Britain has given America for which the United States will forever be grateful. The English language; representative democracy; irony; Monty Python; Downton Abbey. And there are other things which have been regarded with considerably less indulgence. I am unsure that there are many true-born Americans who weep into their breakfast cereal and wish that Piers Morgan could return to assure them that they are, essentially, second-class citizens.
But to their number must be added another name. James Corden, it is time to pack your bags, say farewell to your Beverly Hills mansion, and return to Primrose Hill. Your days as an American entertainer are — must be — behind you.
I bear no personal animosity towards Corden. I found him hilarious on stage in London at the National Theater in One Man, Two Guvnors, and still consider his comedy Gavin and Stacey one of the most apposite mainstream commentaries on class and nationality that Britain has produced over the past few years, albeit thanks to the hefty input of his co-writer Ruth Jones. And it is hard to dislike a man who appeared in a leading role in Tom Hooper’s disastrous Cats, and then, when asked for a comment on why he chose to prance about in it, cheerily abnegated all responsibility by saying ‘I haven’t seen it, but I hear it’s terrible.’ All of these things exist in the credit column. Yet the debit side, like his well-costumed girth, is an ever-growing thing, and one day it shows every sign of expanding into ignominy.
The current reason for Corden’s ill favor is that he decided, for whatever reasons (was blackmail involved? Kidnap? Intoxication?) to dress in a mouse suit, and to thrust his groin at passing cars on a Los Angeles highway.
LMFAO CAMILLA IS SO PRETTY pic.twitter.com/lYrSvI26sk
— Anthony (@_BlueAnt) August 28, 2021
This was bad, very bad indeed, and a lot of good people were offended by it. Inevitably, the explanations came; ‘James’ was ‘in character’ to promote his new movie Cinderella, and no harm was meant from a harmless prank. But before too long, the offended and the outraged weighed in on it. I did not help the tide by my own, admittedly heartless, comment that I would knock Corden down with my car and face the consequences. The reaction that I saw was that most people would be only too thrilled by such an opportunity, which suggests that its star should avoid any vehicular interaction in the near future.
I am sure that James Kimberley (?!) Corden, OBE, can shrug off such carping and criticism as merely the tiny ramblings of embittered minds, to which I can only plead ‘guilty’. But there is also the inevitable sense that Corden himself, who has taken America by storm as a talk show host, performer and presence — we cannot, alas give him the much-coveted title of raconteur — has run out of steam. His schtick is wearing thin.
But there is a solution in London. Nicholas Hytner, the director who steered him towards his greatest performances in The History Boys and One Man, Two Guvnors, has a theater, the Bridge. There are great comic roles yet to be filled. I think I speak not just for America, but for the world, when I say that there is a first-class flight back to his home country waiting for him. The sooner that he steps his well-shod feet upon it, the better.