Merchant has likability and physical presence/gawkiness going for him (shades of John Cleese's Ministry of Silly Walks). It's more consistently amusing than laugh out loud funny. Compared to "you know who" he presents with much less ego and seemed comfortable involving the audience in his act. Though he gets a lot of mileage out of being cheap/tight- fisted/stingy, the "man has to pay for everything on a date" schtick is very dated (pun intended).
Another reviewer noted that at times this felt like an actor playing the role of a stand-up comedian and there is some truth in that - especially since HBO is putting together a series of "Hello Ladies" featuring Merchant as a hapless Brit searching for love in L.A.. There may be some mileage in this character!
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