Josh Widdicombe: The Further Adventures of...,Soho Theatre, London


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The Independent Culture

Rosy-cheeked Devonian Josh Widdicombe is a young man in the pink. The 29-year-old is currently enjoying exposure on Channel 4 in The Last Leg with Adam Hills and his stand up continues to go from strength to strength.

His fortunes are grounded in a steady, even delivery spiced with just the right amount of youthful incredulity. Imagine Jack Dee with flashes of a young David Coleman, or Murray Walker, and you get some idea of the Widdicombe patter.

Styling himself as a bemused malcontent, Widdicombe's observations show comic impatience with new-fangled constructs, be it advertising on cash machine readouts or the conceit of lining the walls of chain pubs with books.

There’s an element of the young fogey or dad comedy to Widdicombe. Accordingly he is not afraid of ‘going retro’ to find his targets. The oversized Toblerones sold at duty free shops get a new lease of life as an object of ridicule: “They’re not a luxury item. You’ve never seen one in a hip hop video have you?”

In contrast to his debut hour, the curly haired comic now paces many of his routines so that he has a chance to get his teeth into a subject without shaking all of the potential out of it. One choice example comes with the sorry tale of how his iPhone battery performs so badly that it is totally dependent on a plug socket: “I’m basically back to a landline.” Modern life and its technological trappings are disappointing, but you can’t help but feel that Widdicombe’s comedy soul is happy to see his world view confirmed by such a regression.

The absence of childlike wonder from a man who looks younger than his still tender years is more than made up for by his deconstruction of that wonder. There’s no better example of this tonight than his metaphorical upsetting of board games. In Widdicombe’s view, Cluedo’s plotline has more holes than the worst alibi, Monopoly meanwhile is deemed to have a hold over over one’s time more than one’s interest.

Each debunking sequence ebbs and flows into the next with time for a breather, but never quite a lull – despite a few dead ends. Widdicombe and his comedy are quite unassuming, but the cumulative effect of these routines that simmer with frustration is a 50 minute set that is whole, wholesome and decidedly accessible.                                                   

Tours until July 18