COMEDY Lenny Beige Regency Rooms, London
Friday 01 August 1997
That also happens to be what an evening with Lenny Beige is like. Mining the same vein of camp chic as Mike Flowers and Bob Downe, Beige is a spoof supper-room entertainer, whose idea of cool is a sky-blue suit spotted with a trombone motif. "Look up `tasteful' in the dictionary," he tells admirers of his threads, "there's a picture of this."
Steve Furst, the man behind Beige's caterpillar eyebrows and sideburns, must feel like a kiddie who has been handed the keys to the toy-shop; he is acting out every youngster's dream of superstardom.
Last Monday, in front of his vociferously loyal audience at the Regency Rooms - festooned with apt photographs of scantily-clad showgirls - he was in his element, coming on and kissing the floor like the Pope. Whipping up fans in little need of further encouragement, he boasted: "We sold out in two days with no advertising. Oasis needed advertising."
Playing the vainglorious entertainer to the hilt - and often beyond - he railed against audience-members who had insulted him by arriving scruffily dressed. "Trainers - the Devil's footwear," he snorted at one lad in the front row. "I get a rash if they're too close." When a mobile phone went off in the audience, Beige stormed: "Who the hell needs a telephone? You're communicating with a showbusiness legend here."
Saluting once-famous names that would now have trouble scraping on to the Z-list, Beige embodies celeb cheesiness. At one point, he expressed his deep admiration for The Brotherhood of Man - "or The 'Hood, as they're now known". "They would have been here tonight," he lamented, "if it wasn't for the fact that they're recording backing vocals for a Chicken Tonight commercial."
As Steve Coogan does with Alan Partridge, Furst has taken the trouble to sketch in the background details of Beige's life - which makes the character all the more plausible. Beige's father, for instance, "was the Gusset King of Bow. He used to have a Pants For a Penny stall in Brick Lane Market. He was beaten to death by the boys from the Stockings For A Shilling stall."
There may be a suspicion that Beige is a one-trick pony in a sharp suit. This did not, however, appear to be a caveat shared by the majority of the audience, who stormed the stage to sing backing vocals with Matt Goss and bow in Wayne's World "we are not worthy" fashion during the closing numbers. As far as they're concerned, Beige is the colour.
Lenny Beige's `One Man and His Talent' is at the Pleasance in Edinburgh (0131-556 6550) from 6 to 30 Aug
And why are 'southern' ways of speaking spreading north?
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