‘The Inbetweeners’ star Simon Bird debuts stand-up special, ‘Debrief’

Bird performs to an empty theatre

Simon Bird’s debut stand-up special Debrief is available to watch now.

The star of The Inbetweeners and Friday Night Dinner, who directed his first film Days Of The Bagnold Summer in 2019, steps into the comedy spotlight with the special airing exclusively on All 4, Channel 4′s streaming service.

Debrief was recorded last month to an empty London Boulevard Theatre, with Bird quipping on topics ranging from nationalism and sexism to the environment and the NHS.

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The stand-up skit was written and produced in the “vacuum” of the coronavirus pandemic, with Bird asking: “Can you even really call yourself a stand-up comedian if you’ve never heard a single person laugh?”

Simon Bird
Simon Bird. CREDIT: Xavier Mas

In an interview with NME earlier this year Bird spoke of his determination to get beyond people recognising him mainly for his role in the E4 teen sitcom The Inbetweeners.

“My career [depends on] being able to wriggle free of being Will from The Inbetweeners. I’ve been trying to escape his shadow,” he said.

“The need to [escape our characters] has become apparent to all four of us [in The Inbetweeners] over time. When the films came out and they were hits, we all hoped they would lead to new opportunities for us. The reality is there’s not much comedy made in this country. If you’re associated with a big role, I can understand why the makers of other series wouldn’t want you. You’re bringing baggage with you and they’re trying to create new characters. It makes total sense…”

But he added that he doesn’t consider his Inbetweeners fame a “huge burden”.

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“At every stage, it felt like we were doing something new. Nobody had watched the first series. I think Channel 4 were seriously considering cancelling it, so the second season felt like a bonus. Then doing the film felt absolutely ridiculous. It felt like a joke that we were allowed to keep doing it. It never felt like we were outstaying our welcome,” he said.

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