Michael McIntyre, Hammersmith Apollo, London
Wednesday 05 November 2008
If comedy is supposedly going to err towards the risk-averse in the post-Brand/post-Ross BBC era: then cometh the hour, cometh Michael McIntyre.
The fact that this ebullient, rotund-but-not-corpulent, and cartoonish entertainer is a safe pair of hands should not be held against him, though, and comparisons to Jerry Seinfeld and Peter Kay, though disparate, hint at his universal appeal.
Applying David Attenborough-like rigours of behavioural examination to the human world, McIntyre bathed in the laughter of recognition tonight. His description of being in a car stuck behind a tractor on a country lane with a queue of frustrated drivers urging him to overtake dangerously took me, as a non-driver, back to childhood days out while it clearly had more recent resonance for others. His observational take on the trials and tribulations of the breakfast buffet is typical of the physicality of many of his routines, as he shuffles up and down replicating the elaborate etiquette of the occasion, while also showing off, giggly, braying asides such as: "I've never wanted ham at breakfast before. I want it now."
McIntyre fell and dislocated his right arm at a gig last week. Tonight he performs with his arm in a sling, but his wings are by no means clipped. He gets more wind beneath these wings in the second half, and shrugs off some of the more overblown and obvious routines that end the first, when he talks about the agony of planning holidays based on resort reviews online, quipping that one read: "The Kids Club was so good we left them there after we went home."
After uncovering the male conspiracy behind the advice that sex and curry help induce pregnancy, McIntyre could have ended on his fast-becoming-a-classic routine about his "man drawer". In this drawer are useful and useless items from light bulbs to old currency; all of them become truly emasculated when McIntyre receives a mysterious phone call that requires him to pay an old man in drachmas and have the instructions to an old toaster handy.
Though occasionally "pinballing" slightly between routines with staccato links, McIntyre's policy of honing his "talk and the jokes will come" approach works well and he is building an ever-stronger extended set. His unashamedly middle-class persona may still rub some audiences up the wrong way, but his career trajectory (that will include an appearance at Prince Charles's 60th-birthday celebrations) suggests they may have to get used to friction burn.
Touring to 17 November ( www.michaelmcintyre.co.uk )
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
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