Chris Addison, Bloomsbury Theatre, London
Fine stand-up is back in the loop
Tuesday 16 February 2010
Channel 4 may be revising its top 100 stand-ups but these days you could argue that appearing on E4's Skins is as much an affirmation of a comedian's credibility. Chris Addison has made the grade in this respect with his part as the rather peculiar Professor David Blood, a role that follows Dr Alex Beenyman in Lab Rats (the sitcom Addison co-wrote) and the character that really brought him to prominence, Oliver Reeder in The Thick of It. After a similar role in The Thick of It film spin-off, In the Loop, Addison's hard graft on the comedy circuit is paying dividends. There could be no better time, then, to show a wider public his impressive stand-up skills.
Addison's first new live show since 2005 is a much looser affair than his highly structured, "smarty pants" Edinburgh shows, two of which received Perrier Award nominations. That is not to say his pace has slowed from breakneck. Sometimes this means that his best moments are almost lost in a flurry of joke-toppers that follow his point. One such aside is his description of how at his boy's school, trampolining sessions were conducted by a games teacher controlling his charge with a winch, a situation "like some kind of reverse Quasimodo".
The show's conceit is even looser than its structure. The gangly 38-year-old is aiming to become a "morally and physically better person" so he can defy his children by being better than them, rather than improving himself for their sakes. On the physical, he ranges from the aforementioned schoolboy remembrances, from which he builds a really solid sequence, to his own bedroom prowess. "I like it," he says of sex, "but it's not my game."
The second half of the show is taken up with the moral part of the equation, and an exploration of intolerance. It is fitting that it should begin with interruptions from a loquacious audience member and Addison's vacillation between tolerance and intolerance when dealing with her. In administering "tough love" and showing a steelier side of his boyish and buoyant nature, Addison has the crowd on his side. Such a fragmented opening, however, is echoed in the rest of the half.
Despite the second act's erratic sweep of subjects, from Ugg boots to the Pope and from domestic arguments to the BNP, Addison keeps a stream of gags coming. His routine on the BNP avoids the cumbersome feeling that preaching to the converted can give, and he makes a clever leap from the recent snowfall to how the middle and working classes would deal with a food shortage – perishables versus tins in what would be known as "the siege of best before".
Dispensing with too much "tee-heeing" at his own gags is a tangible sign that Addison has grown as a comic. On tonight's evidence, there is more to come. When asked by an American if he has plans tour her country, he says that has no plans to do so yet. The question, however, shows that his career has plenty of room for manoeuvre.
Touring to 5 May ( www.chrisaddison.com)
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