Alan Carr: Spexy Beast, Brighton Centre, Brighton
Tuesday 13 September 2011
Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Welcome to the Pleasuredome" plays Alan Carr on to the stage tonight, the opening night of his first tour for four years. However, the fanfare proves to be in vain, with the bespectacled comic laying on a ride with lulls and peaks mostly too shallow to either thrill or bitterly disappoint.
The Brighton Centre is an ambiance-challenged venue at the best of times and so Carr has to work hard to get any kind of energy pulsating through the room. His kitchen-sink observations make sustained momentum that much harder to attain as it is, since he rarely dwells on the same subject for long.
Even where Carr does dwell tonight, the ordering of his material isn't always that coherent. A sequence about young people, for example, that briefly encompasses the violent student demonstrations of last year and this August's riots, is as flimsy in content as its structure is loose.
Initially suggesting that young people get a raw deal, Carr quickly deviates from the sentiment and such flighty logic is symptomatic of his approach. None of this would matter if the gags were good enough – but too often in the first half they are not.
Remarking on the paradox of two teenage scourges, knife crime and obesity, Carr says: "You never know if they are going to stab you or cut another piece of Black Forest gateau." Why not just say cake, shorter, sharper and much more effective? The option chosen is quite literally over-egged and suggests a comic a little off the pace, with his wit coming over as shrilly as his voice.
The second half, thankfully, builds on the more fluent sequences of the first, where punchlines are punchier and concepts are sharper. "Ebay is for people too proud to rummage through skips," runs one self-contained line that doesn't require a topper joke to rescue it. Meanwhile, riffs on pramercise ("some of these mums are competitive; I saw one of them throw the baby out of the pram to get more speed") and hot tubs keep alive the all important strong finish.
As is often the case, the merits of an act's performance can be summed up by something they have already said themselves and at the beginning of the show Carr quipped: "There are good bits and bad bits, a bit like Cher Lloyd on The X Factor." A half-joke if ever there was one.
To 14 September (0844 847 1515), then on tour to 6 November
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