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
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
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.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments