If I'm 30% Dalek
and 30% me, 30% of the me 30% (9%) should also be Dalek, making me 39% Dalek, 52% Sherlock Holmes
and only 9% pure me!
—David Mitchell describing himself on Twitter
British actor, comedian, and writer, best known for his work with long-time comedy partner Robert Webb
on various "Mitchell and Webb" sketch shows
, most notably That Mitchell and Webb Situation
, That Mitchell and Webb Sound
, and That Mitchell And Webb Look
(he and Webb were the also the dominant writers in short-lived sketch show Bruiser
). The pair also star in a Black Comedy
/ Cringe Comedy Brit Com
, Peep Show
, with Mitchell playing Mark, an uptight, socially-repressed sad sack, to Webb's Jeremy, an aspiring musician with delusions of adequacy.
In his own projects Mitchell is the king of the Panel Show
, with numerous appearances on QI
, Have I Got News for You
, Mock The Week
and Would I Lie to You?
, on which he is a team captain; he also turns up on The News Quiz
and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue
now and again. He is host of the radio show The Unbelievable Truth
, which requires panelists to discern true facts from false; he was also host of The Bubble
, a televised panel game, during its single-series run. He has been featured in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?
. Currently he is one of the hosts of the news/comedy show 10 O'Clock Live
Mitchell's comedic style is characterized by witty, intelligent barbed commentary on the illogic of the world, which almost inevitably erupts
in a ranting monologue
which has the audience (and often the target) in stitches. He is the most likely spiritual successor to Stephen Fry
, though he would be the first to deny it. Mitchell often seems self-conscious about his own success, presenting an occasionally shy face to the world at odds with his rapid-fire delivery when frustrated or annoyed, as when he claimed he would have liked to succeed David Tennant as the Doctor on Doctor Who
but doubted he would be attractive enough*
He also maintains a series of soapbox rants on Youtube
, a column in The Observer
and has written an autobiography "Back Story".
Bears no relation to the David Mitchell who wrote Cloud Atlas
Tropes associated with Mitchell or his characters:
- Artifact Title: His "Soapbox" was originally a pun on the fact that it was sponsored by a brand of cosmetics - since the third series, it's been sponsored by Dell, and much less prominently, but the title remains.
- Berserk Button: Gosh, so many thing. Sausage rolls, bread and milk somehow being poisonous, Russians, being forced to dance, Americanized * spelling, tea that's too hot, The British Cheese Board, the list goes on...
- Biting-the-Hand Humour: On top of the frequent jokes about The BBC, one of his YouTube "Soapbox" monologues is on the subject of male grooming, including specific references to the series' sponsor "Bulldog"* . After he mocked them again in another Soapbox, Bulldog got its own back by calling him "Donny Michaels" in The Tag.
- Comedic Sociopathy
[on The Bubble, asking panelists to guess whether a headline actually appeared in the previous week]
David: "Comedian David Mitchell has announced he is to split from his long-term comedy partner Robert Webb [Webb starts furiously pounding his buzzer] in order to concentrate on a solo career."
Robert Webb: [visibly upset] Fake!
David: It is fake. [beat] Hell of a way to break it..
- The Comically Serious: Some of his characters, and to an extent the man himself.
- Deadpan Snarker: When he's not ranting.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: While he frequently makes jokes about his (apparent) loneliness, he doesn't appreciate the audience going "aww". Or cheering too much. What would be the appropriate reaction remains a mystery.
[Hosting Have I Got News for You: The Missing Words headline is "(Lack of item price) surprises many customers about bar codes"]
David: [reading autocue] To be honest, it doesn't bother me that prices aren't included in bar codes, because, over the years, I've come to know the prices of every single Ready Meal for One.
Audience: Awww. [David looks mortified]
Paul Merton: Shall we start a collection?
Andy Hamilton: Yeah!
David: [waving his hands] The pity's worse!
- Fat and Skinny: The "chubby" one, at least compared to Webb.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: With Robert Webb.
Miranda Hart: He (Robert) keeps talking about this "Abby" he's married to, but you know, we all know that "Abby" is David.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Here's Charlie Skelton, friend of Mitchell's wife Victoria Coren, describing Coren's ideal male type, back before Mitchell and Coren got together:
"Vicky prefers a shyer, slightly embarrassed flirter. With deep psychological issues, and a problem finding social acceptance. Complicated. Gauche. [...] Reserved to the point of rudeness. Physically awkward." To which Coren responds: "I just like to feel there's more to somebody than meets the eye."
- Limited Wardrobe: Not in his regular television appearances, but in his weekly webcast David Mitchell's Soap Box he wears the same red shirt and black slacks every week.
- In September 2010 he appeared in a blue shirt in answer to viewer comments. He claimed the red shirt was simply for convenience but that being able to operate on a real Limited Wardrobe policy would be fine by him, since it would free him from having to decide what to wear every day.
- Neat Freak: He is, in his own words, a little bit OCD.
- Not so Above It All: In 2009's Big Fat Quiz of the Year, following a short clip of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face"*, he and his teammate Charlie Brooker were greeted with incredulity by the other teams (particularly Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand) when he said he felt no want or desire to dance to the music. Disbelieving them, the producers started up "Poker Face" again, focused the cameras on David, the audience cheered... and David proceeded to sit completely immobile until the music stopped.
David: [to the audience] What the fuck makes you think I was gonna do that? This isn't the fucking Generation Game! Fuck off, I'm paid to sit here and be sarcastic! [...] The world is full of people trying to make people who don't want to dance, dance! "Go on, have a dance, you want to, really." No! I really don't want to!
- Odd Couple: The general dynamic of the Mitchell and Webb collaborations, including Peep Show. Quite possibly Truth in Television.
- Orwellian Retcon: The removal of the Bulldog tags from the first two series of Soapbox, despite references to them in the videos themselves, and the parody tags done when he and Webb briefly superseded them to promote their book.
- Rant Comedy: In his "Soapbox" webcast, his column in The Observer, and wherever else he gets the chance.
- Rant Inducing Slight: Any number of things can trigger a burst of, as Stephen Fry put it, his "relentless, urgent, and slightly worried logic."
- Shout Out: The backdrop to this rant takes this trope Up to Eleven.
- Type Casting: Parodied in a sketch where he plays both a ship's captain and the detective interviewing him, explaining to an annoyed Robert Webb that those kinds of authoritarian characters are "my thing."
- You Need to Get Laid: A frequent joke at his expense, particularly since he was a long-time bachelor. From the first episode of the Bubble:
[Following a tangent about how a cat's head found in somebody's bed would not have been sent by the Cat Mafia, but by the Mafia of a species which considered their cats the equivalent of our horses]
Reginald D. Hunter: After this show, let's get you a girlfriend.
- Hilarious in Hindsight due to Victoria Coren, his future wife, laughing at the joke and the put down right beside Reginald.