If you’re of an age when you remember the good old days of light entertainment then you probably recollect weeping with laughter at the observational comedy of stand-up Jasper Carrott and impressions of Alistair McGowan.
A lot of comics have come and gone since Mr C first took to the stage in the 1970s with his ridiculous name, daft songs (Funky Moped anyone?) and relatively clean, but skewed, view on life.
Fashion has brought endless new waves of comedians who are all younger, more cutting edge, political, foul mouthed and controversial, but none match the longevity of Robert Davis OBE.
He’s now 71 and, despite making a mint from selling his shares in the production company which made Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, the lure of the open mike and a live audience, has drawn him back to comedy.
He and McGowan launched a nationwide tour earlier this year before it was rudely interrupted to allow the mimic to play the odious Jimmy Savile on stage.
Now they’re back and relaunched themselves at the weekend at The Cube, in Corby.
As a huge fan of both men (I first saw Carrott in the early 1980s at the Queensway Hall, Dunstable, when he came on and made disparaging remarks about the venue’s ceiling) I made a 110-mile round trip to Northants on a cold, rainy Sunday night, to see the show, and it was worth every gallon of petrol.
Spookily, nothing had changed with Jasper. It was hard to believe that nearly 40 years had gone by since that first gig.
He trotted on stage – after a first act from the multi-talented Alistair McGowan (“I said warm them up not boil the bastards!”) – to pretty much pick up where he left off. He even resurrected some of his famous “insurance quotes,” off the top of his head, because he claimed to have left his crib sheet in the dressing room. I swear I’d heard them decades before but I still laughed uproariously.
Age now plays a big part in Carrott’s comedy repertoire. There are gags about Stannah stair-lifts, haemorrhoid cream, looking after the grandkids – “They tell you it’s great being a granddad. You can give the kids back at the end of the day. No you can’t. They’re like herpes – you can’t get rid of them!”
This OAP makes a big play about losing his memory and longevity but he starts with a few topical jokes.
“So Corby. The Cube. They say you only work it twice in your career. Once on the way up and…..It’s great to be back!
“There was a survey recently that named Corby as the unhappiest town in the UK. Bloody hell! Have they never been to Peterborough?”
During his act he frequently blusters and stalls for time, making light of forgetting lines, but it’s unclear whether he genuinely is forgetful or it’s just a bit of business to gain empathy from the audience. He loses his train of thought during one gag and, later, forgets to plug in his guitar to the amp.
He says he’s often asked why he isn’t on TV any more and replies, honestly: “I don’t cook”. He’s right. There isn’t a TV producer willing to give old school comics the time of day much less a slot on prime-time television. He’s not trendy enough, or young enough or radical.
But it’s clear that he has a huge audience of fans who welcome the chance to listen to his off-beat stories about Birmingham City, sex, curries and that old favourite, snoring. It’s all (almost) family friendly and hysterically funny.
Carrott split the night with Alistair McGowan who regaled the audience with impressions of sportsmen, entertainers, politicians and fellow jokers. He even did the pre-show announcement – as Jonathan Ross.
He’s a one-man comedy show cracking gags as Jo Brand, Kevin Bridges, John Bishop, Eddie Izzard, Dara O’Briain and David Mitchell. I was waiting for him to imitate Carrott on stage with his co-star in a double act, but I’m guessing that would be too surreal.
He loves his sportsmen, flitting from tennis to football (players and management), he dabbles with the supercooks like Paul Hollywood and Raymond Blanc, does a brilliant Gyles Brandreth and brings the house down with a saucy Graham Norton impression.
This is one of the finest and funniest entertainment shows I’ve seen in a long time. Welcome back Carrott.
Review by October 19, 2016 | Stagereview.co.uk