Greg Davies: The Back of My Mum's Head, Hammersmith Apollo, London


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The Independent Culture

Leaving the stage, Greg Davies describes his show tonight as one of the high points of his career.

Cracking Hammersmith Apollo is a significant marker and the gratitude is genuine. The 44-year-old's joy has been apparent all the way through, and even his practised corpsing has been taken to another level.

Despite the rather abortive final passage of Davies' second solo touring show, there's material here strong enough to be a pleasure to repeat, both from his perspective and ours.

Among his achievements, Davies shows how that old classic, the fart gag can be effectively reinvented in the right hands. His struggle to keep his decency while watching a religious procession in Spain is superbly built. Here, as with many instances in his first twenty minutes, Davies is the butt of his own jokes.

This sorry tale comes among a batch of scatological, slapstick and self-deprecating material that his character in The Inbetweeners, Mr Gilbert would have had no time for, from breaking a toilet to thwacking a friend with a family pack of pita breads.

"I was a real teacher, not just an eyebrow raising one", Davies reminds us tonight. His lesson here is that there's no such thing as normal, and he laments that there is an adult "filter" that comes into play after the babes and small children truth-telling stage has passed. However, it's a filter that can only give the pretence of normality. "We're hanging on to sanity by our fingertips" he says.

After all, what else but a petulant, bad-tempered and ill-advised outburst by Davies' teen angst-ridden and tormented (by him) sister could have seen off his family's would-be murderers during a holiday in Florida? This yarn makes a case for leaving the filter off occasionally and is one riposte to his mum's oft heard refrain to him of "it's not normal, love."

Sixty minutes of the eighty minute show work as a celebration of the abnormal, scoring the teacher-turned-comedian a more than passable 75%. The room for improvement is there because if the disjointed nature of the final routines.

Davies has held up rapt up to the 60 minute mark, but mixing things up at a late stage with a playlet about his mother's over anxious attitude towards a trip her son will be making to Nepal, followed by a frivolous closing ditty to call back the previous routines, feels like he's throwing in format extras surplus to requirement.

Tours until: 24th Feb 2013;