Alan Davies: Life Is Pain, Venue 150 @ EICC, Edinburgh
More than just Essex jokes from Davies
More than a decade has passed since everyone's favourite “dunce” from QI last flexed his stand-up muscles, so he has some catching up to do.
In the 1990s, Davies was the new man everyman, a comedian to whom both men and women of all backgrounds could relate. Tonight, after 11 years away but with those credentials still just about intact, he reminisces and gives his initial routines a 1980s retro feel – talking about phones with dials, for example.
Eager to make an impression, and concerned about the quality of the laughs he is getting, for the first 30 minutes he moves in fits and starts to match chronological jumps in his material. A non-anecdote about getting stoned with some American actors when he was at a theatre festival in his twenties is given life by volume only and is blown up into something that sounds fictional even though it is too dull to be. Immediately afterwards, his take on the language of his fellow Essex men, a tapestry of "ly" words ("Basically... literally... effectively... seriously etc) strikes a more successful note.
Unsurprisingly, the curly comic wants in on social media too and it's a topic that makes the 46-year old sound like everyone's dad. He's incredulous that poking someone is construed as a come-on. It's as if, he conjectures, he has had a lust for his friend Dave "gnawing away inside me for two and a half decades" and has just been waiting for Facebook to out it.
Some passages are more genuine than others. An initially clumsy attempt to generalise female students in the 1980s as converts to lesbianism, leads into striking piece about the brutality of modern-day porn: "It's like a crime scene, I feel like I need to call the police."
Twenty-one years have passed since Davies started in comedy. Given that his fallow period has outstripped his stand-up career, tonight's return to the stage is impressive. The last third of his show kicks into a polished stride and you start to see the legs it could have on tour, provided he keeps his nostalgia rooted in real experience.
Ends tomorrow (0844 847 1639)
Art Somebody is going around telling people he's Banksy - but it isn't the street artist
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
- 4 Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
- 5 Grumpy Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
Game of Thrones season 5: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as it’s not him
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Phil Tufnell, Heather Mills and co take to the slopes
Costa Book Awards 2015: H is for Hawk named book of the year
New Ghostbusters movie lands all-female cast with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures