Comedy: And here's one for the ladies

Jeff Green Apollo, W1

It's part of the strange attraction of comedy that it's very hard to laugh along with someone you don't like. This is especially so when watching straight stand-up. The public hand-wringing, sexual stories and political jibes have to strike at least a few chords. Jeff Green - you might know him from various TV cameos on shows like Never Mind the Buzzcocks - has the advantage of Ally McCoist looks, and the same line in cherubic cheek. Probably doesn't play fitba as well, but opening at the Apollo this week he was - to judge by the female sighs going on around me - eminently likeable.

There's nothing startlingly original about his choice of material or the manner of its delivery. There were a lot of exaggerated personal yarns about alcoholic and sexual escapades ("drink was a factor" became a regular closing line). The fliers advertise the show with an 18 age- rating and a warning of adult content, but then that's the case with any comic worth his equity card.

But his material on gender differences - that staple of stand-ups - is in a different class. It is blunt, but also gentle, unusually teasing rather than aggressive (hence, I suppose, the female swoons). "We might not be able to experience all the true majesty of child birth," he said of men, "but at least we can open all our own jars." He did a series of one-liners about things you'll never hear a woman say: "my feet are boiling", "another chocolate? Couldn't possibly" or "thank you, that's quite enough foreplay".

In his sarky Scouser voice, he talked about the cloying nature of relationships, like going round roundabouts in fifth gear because you're holding hands. Then came his observations about candles, about a lot of candles. "I never knew how many I needed," he said, "even just for a bath. The first time it happened I thought, contacting the dead? ... or did I miss a really old man's birthday?" The flip side is the separation, when the man's "underpant fairy" and "washing-up pixie" goes AWOL.

Green is one of those impish comics, like Eddie Izzard, who charms rather than provokes his audience, offering them glimpses into the workings of his bizarre mind. Still on the male-female thing, he talked about possible ways to improve the standards of male driving by fitting cars with airbags in the shape of a giant penis. The threat of such safety equipment emerging on impact would reduce crashes: "20 miles per hour?" he said, pretending to hold the wheel at arm's length, "now that's plenty fast enough". He's that rare thing, a comedian of explicit material who gives no offence, a commentator on the so-called sex war who doesn't take sides.

There were some very slick ad-libs. With professional comics, it's always hard to tell if those moments are genuine; whether the breaking out of the act and the asides about the night's audience and its reactions are for real. But comics know audiences expect something on-the-hoof, something to show that they're listening to a quick mind rather than a much-repeated routine, and Green didn't disappoint. He milked applause by saying it reminded him of dropping the tray in the school canteen, and picked on a man who kept laughing out of time (first rule of comedy: never sit in the front row).

Then, momentarily losing his thread, he started talking about memory; about that schoolboy walk to the exam room, the student trying to balance all the last-minute revision going on in his brain: "Don't anyone nudge me. Make way, family disappointment coming through."

It's easy to see why so many stand-up acts turn to novel-writing. Green's gags work as much by great phrase-making as by punchlines. He's the master of the incongruous, comic anti-climax: women, he announces, are an "enigma wrapped in a conundrum, shrouded in a duvet." On being drunk, Green described himself as typically "red of eye, foul of breath, licentious of thought and floppy of deed." He talked about the vapid pleasantries of America, as compared to the gruffness of Britain, conceding "I would rather be told to have a nice day by someone who doesn't mean it, than to f--- off by someone who does."

He ended the night coming back on stage, faux sheepish, having been urged to do an encore. His stand-up routine, he said, was like a first date: he's never sure how it should start or finish. But by that stage the audience seemed happily won over.

Apollo, W1 (0171 494 5500), to Saturday.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing