When I thought about sharing the wonders of Steve Cumberland's video blogs with the world, I have to admit that I was in two minds about it. It is, for the moment, the most exciting, cult comedy on the internet and it seems only a matter of time until it will become one of those things you'll overhear people telling their mates about in the pub and wincing at their tardiness and misinterpretation. I don't like to be protective of comedy, like one of those people that claim they "saw Eddie Izzard when he was a street performer" and argue that anything on the television was much better when it was being performed in the upstairs of a grimy pub at the Edinburgh Fringe, but I am. It's one of my worst traits, and when a twitter follower recommended Cumbo, I was struck by the ambivalent need to keep it to myself and shout it from the social media rooftops. So in an attempt to better myself, I will share with you one of comedy's best kept secrets, the video blogs of Steve "Cumbo" Cumberland.
The series of "vlogs" have been going for about a year, and document the 37 year-old Steve's desperate attempt to meet women on the Internet. Cumbo is a tragically narcissistic, wannabe stoner in a terminal state of arrested development, who hangs around with kids half his age in his home town of Brighton. He is constantly trying to get them to see him as a mate and a mentor, he tells of his attempt to get them to nickname him "the Godfather", a moniker that unfortunately fails to stick. His main hobbies include dancing on podiums in Brighton nightclubs, participating in "Bongathons", chanting his own name and generally spouting self-aggrandizing nonsense and constantly striving to impress everyone he meets.
Steve Cumberland is the alter-ego of comedian David Earl, perhaps best known for another character, the seedy Greasy Spoon owner Brian Gittins, who has appeared on a series of similar YouTube videos with Renton Skinner's Angelos Epithemiou of Shooting Stars fame, as well as having a scene-stealing part in Stephen Merchant and Rickey Gervais' much overlooked Cemetery Junction. Like Gervais' David Brent, Cumberland is a man who sees life as a popularity contest, but also, like all great flawed characters, envokes the same pity and empathy. Like The Office when it first aired 10 years ago, there is a wonderful sense of realism, which causes people to mistake it for the genuine article. With the amount of unintentionally hilarious video diaries around, Steve Cumberland fits in perfectly with his jumpy editing, mid-Atlantic vernacular and maniacal giggle. Another joy of the YouTube format is the opportunity for Cumbo to interact with the viewers, many of whom perceive it as genuine and leave some incredibly insulting comments that would be overly-vindictive, even if they were directed at someone as monumentally titish as Steve.
So join the exclusive Cumbo club, start the blogs from the beginning, follow @TheCumbo on Twitter, and decide for yourselves whether you want to keep it to yourself or not.
Follow Jack Pelling on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mycelluloidhero