Rhod Gilbert's 1984 is, for the most part, a neat framework for his current club routines, but also allows for some more recent inventions. In the show, his mother's affair with the milkman is the storyline that links each month that passes and the succession of unfortunate event that befalls his family in the fictional town on Llanbobl ("it's going to rhyme with a word in 42 minutes' time," says the Welshman of his choice of name). True to the idea of the modest, and wry Welshman, Gilbert takes misfortune on the chin and there's a weary martyrdom about his person that says, "We had it coming". Orwell thought he had it bad, says Gilbert, "but he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1948, so I can't help thinking that he made some of it up".
Tall and charismatic, if in a slightly negative way, Gilbert ravels and unravels routines about recreational stalking ("be careful who you pick, I've stalked some right loons"); his brother's knack for reverse origami ("he could unfold anything"); and the difficulties involved if you lose the sheep you were counting in order to get to sleep ("one got stuck up a tree... it took me three hours to talk him down"). He opens the show carrying a suitcase handle separated from the case courtesy of Ryanair - it's a routine that is fast becoming his signature tune.
For a large part of the show, Gilbert was the kind of comedian that, if less experienced comics went to see him, would make them wonder if they should carry on. There are, however, troughs in the show, where Gilbert's imagination has run ahead of him; his grandfather's bike that was a pretend time machine was flimsy whimsy, and his grandmother's demise during a football match in which her pancreas was used as the ball was second-division Eddie Izzard. However, other imaginative ideas, such as playing doctors and nurses with his brother, where he was the admin assistant to his brother as the doctor, worked nicely.
The year 1984 may not have been great for Gilbert's fictional family, but a couple of decades on, and things look very promising for Gilbert's career. In just three years, he has won a hatful of awards, including the BBC New Comedy award and Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year. After tonight's show, it's not hard to understand why.
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