Do you like double acts? I do. French and Saunders, Fry and Laurie, Les Frères Ennemis (in France), Laurel and Hardy, Dudley Moore and Peter Cook, Morecambe and Wise – they all make me laugh like a drain. Being French and therefore exposed to them from a young age, I even used to like Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (yes, I know!).
I am less fond of those married actors who perform with each other all the time or are never seen without each other. Could any couple have been more annoying than Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson (that was before Brangelina, of course)? In the end, they became figures of fun and had to split up. I even despised Judi Dench, whom I normally adore, when she acted with her late husband Michael Williams in inferior shows. Then there are the directors who always employ their wives. Claude Chabrol, for instance, who somehow couldn’t make a film without the detestable Stéphane Audran. She couldn’t act to save her life and, as far as I am concerned, spoiled every single film she was in. The less talented partner usually brings the other one down.
There are no problems when people achieve recognition simultaneously, but what happens when someone who is already well known in his or her field teams up with a novice? The former loses some of their credibility if they let the person who shares their life share the limelight as well – their own reputation is dented, and the latter faces accusations of riding on their partner’s coat tails. If the more experienced of the two is not competitive or insecure there are no sparks, but what happens if he or she is an egomaniac in need of constant admiration? Suppose they end up becoming a foil to their more flamboyant, newbie spouse, what then?
But as much as I dislike couples who work together in the world of entertainment, what I detest most of all are real-life double acts (sometimes they belong to the previous category as well): they are not just ridiculous, they are slightly repellent too. There is something so smug about them. Excluded from the cosy relationship, one feels like a voyeur. Is there anything more unfunny than two people who constantly laugh at each other’s jokes in the presence of a third person, or finish each other’s sentences? They both deserve to be slapped.