Jack Whitehall Gets Around, comedy review: The young comic is still a work-in-progress
Wembley Arena, London
Dubbed 'the King of Comedy' by a public vote at the British Comedy Awards, Jack Whitehall's debut arena tour could be considered an extended coronation, but the young comic over-reaches to keep pace with the hype.
The 25-year-old pulls out various stops, including unleashing a confetti canon on us - and that was just to mark the end of the first half. Meanwhile, a recurrent homage to The Lion King (“Shakespeare with fur”) sees him go beyond pride in search of a big finish in the second.
The crowd duly roars its approval for Whitehall, now more widely known thanks to Bad Education (BBC3) and Fresh Meat (E4). However, I suspect their rapture partly comes out of relief that he finishes before his giddy exuberance turns into unwelcome showiness - a sliding scale that one might apply to an initially amusing relative at a boozy Christmas dinner.
His previous tendency to pose and posture to emphasise a punchline has been reined in, though Whitehall still employs significant amounts of bombast and ranting to get his points across.
He does so tonight from a circular platform in the middle of the venue, making Wembley Arena in-the-round - a ploy that would succeed in its attempt at intimacy were it not got the irresistible pull of the giant screens just above him.
“Get it wrong? Gotta be strong” is the central Whitehall mantra; pseudo ghetto advice that will get us through minor social faux pas such as forgetting someone's name. Just keep saying the name you first said til they start to question their own identity, he advises.
Though route one is the way he often favours, Whitehall is by no means an entirely a blunt instrument beating its way down the path of least resistance.
In style he's much more fluid, with his feminine side more pronounced than on previous occasions where he was more cocky than camp. His material may lack ambition in topic – e.g. the awkwardness of having your testicles handled by a doctor; the incongruity of posh people in a bar fight and how one might adapt the 'sticks and stones' adage to stop bullies – but his routines are dispatched with conviction.
Meanwhile, the easy cliches and stereotyping that have attracted a backlash to Whitehall's success are less in evidence tonight. One clumsy line from the 'sticks and stones' riff does undo his restraint, however. He suggests to bullies that they pick on “the fat boy or the Jew”, a clumsy rhyme grasped at for a flourish, and with little thought for its impact.
For the most part, however, Jack's all right. Though playing mega venues suggests a finished article, the young comic is still a work-in-progress. This show at least suggests that he can progress in quality (clearly he has quantity licked), though it doesn't signpost how far.
Until March 17, The O2
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 UK weather: Britain braced for snow to replace sun as arctic air mass moves in
Broadchurch series 3: David Tennant and Olivia Colman to return for third season, ITV confirms
Poldark, series 1 finale, review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 3, review: Sansa and manhood-lopping torturer Ramsay Bolton - really?
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove