There's good reason for the extra spring in the step of Micky Flanagan's signature Cockney walk this evening. After nearly 15 years in comedy, and jobs before that which have included fish-packer and dishwasher, the Bethnal Green-bred 46-year-old was strutting out on to the stage of a venue that seats over 3,500 people and is synonymous with career ascendancy.
While much of Flanagan's language and some of his routines could be considered coarse, his cherubic face and generosity of spirit enable him to distance himself from any offence that might be given, even when assessing the seduction possibilities of a woman before and after the Gok Wan treatment. Much more deserving are those people who have let their teeth go, rather than just their looks: "Who are these people who give up on their nuggets?" Flanagan demands. "We're not between the wars!"
Class, and sometimes the lack thereof, is at the core of Flanagan's material, which contrasts middle and working-class mores in the context of social changes since the 1970s, when Flanagan grew up. Ironically, this makes him a comic who could be considered "retro", a quality now prized by the kind of middle-class incomers who gentrified much of the East End he grew up in.
Without ever taking sides as such, as befits his own journey between classes, Flanagan ruffles middle-class feathers in a way that tickles them and is nostalgic about more working-class memories. While, in his childhood, his mum told him his complaints of hunger only meant he would enjoy his dinner more, now deli owners set extravagant prices for artichokes for the same reason.
In the intervening years, Flanagan got himself a degree (claiming that some of his fellow students were thinking: "The window cleaner is a bit keen isn't he?") and has clearly graduated to a prime position for social commentary.
Touring to 1 June ( www.mickyflanagan.com)