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. The pair also do a Black Comedy / Cringe Comedy Britcom, 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 Ten 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.
Tropes associated with Mitchell or his characters:
- Adorkable: Just look at the page image!
- Annoying Laugh: A high-pitched cackle that sounds like a cross between a teakettle and a rooster, but only when he's profoundly amused.
- Badass Beard: Has one in-progress. Look at it!
- Berserk Button: Gosh, so many thing. Sausage rolls, bread and milk, 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.
- Breakup Breakout: Not that they've broken up, but outside of collaborative projects Rob is rather sidelined (Flashdance aside).
- Webb said that part of the reason for this is that Mitchell gets on very well in Panel Game situations, while Webb always feels a bit awkward in them.
- Brown Eyes: One of his most noticeable and attractive features.
- Butt Monkey: As Mark Corrigan on Peep Show.
- Character Filibuster: And how!
- 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.
[going on a rant about William and Kate doing 'the Wave' at Wimbledon] Before everyone screams for me to get over myself, let me say that it's no use, I never will.
- 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!
- Dreadful Musician: Listen for yourself.
- 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.
- Ho Yay: As might be expected, with Robert Webb.
- For example, when David and Robert both appeared on Jonathan Ross and Graham Norton's chat shows shortly after Rob had first become a father, both hosts made jokes about how great David looked "considering he had a baby three months ago".
- Or on one episode of The Bubble in which Robert Webb appeared, when his fellow panelists claimed that "my wife Abi" was code for David and that Webb always refers to him as "my David". When David looked amusingly shocked, Robert quickly explained he was distinguishing his comedy partner from the author by the same name (see Name's The Same, below).
- And with Stephen Fry, a little bit. Every time they're on QI together, David comes across as desperately trying to impress him.
- 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.
- Non-Action Guy: He doesn't even drive.
- 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.
- Rant Comedy: In his "Soapbox" webcast and in his column in The Observer.
- 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.
- The Smart Guy
- Typecasting: 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."
- When He Smiles: Tends to show that he's not solely a grumpy, ranting intellectual, and in the eyes of some fans makes him actually quite cute.
- You Need to Get Laid: A frequent joke at his expense, particularly since he's 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 fiancée, laughing at the joke and the put down right beside Reginald.