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.

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)

comedy

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • 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.

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own
    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England