Comedy: Frank's friend left all on his testosterone

In the izzaland over the road from the St Albans Arena, a shy- looking father and his football-shirted son share a difficult meal. There is something touching about their awkwardness. If they could read their futures in the mozzarella, the long-term forecast might be anything, but the short-term would have a degree of reassurance about it. It would say, "You are going to see David Baddiel: a man who has no difficulty expressing his innermost feelings, even though sometimes it might be better if he did".

There is no way of knowing how father and son react to the moment later in the evening when Baddiel confesses that sometimes his only goal in having sex with his girlfriend is to supply himself with mental images for later masturbatory exploits (There is no way of knowing how David Baddiel's girlfriend reacts to it either, come to that). A nervous attempt at a collusive glance maybe, or perhaps a half-stifled flush of embarrassment? Either way, the arteries of their masculinity will have been fattened beyond the wildest dreams of any wily pepperoni merchant.

Except that when you actually see it happening, the whole Baddiel testosterone bonding experience is not quite as cut and dried as one might have imagined. Early on, when the chants of the crowd oblige him to down his pint in one, this is done not so much in a spirit of beery triumphalism, but with genuine (and justifiable) concern that his fragile grip on the proceedings might be fatally weakened by any form of alcoholic indulgence. Appearing on This Morning recently, Baddiel confessed that he had only gone on the road because Frank Skinner said you had to perform live to be a proper comedian. This is a bit like Alan Shearer convincing Gareth Southgate that you have to take penalties to be worth your place in the international side.

In technical terms, tonight's show is something of a debacle. It's fine to be reading cues off the back of your monitors at this early stage in a long tour, but those cues really need to say something other than "Play dialogue excerpt from your favourite porn film" or "now is the time to use the line 'like Fergie on speed'."

And yet, by all measures other than content and presentation, this performance is a howling success. The warmth with which Baddiel is received is more than equivalent to the loathing he traditionally inspires in those who do not admire him, and it is easy to see why. There is something specious about Baddiel's much-vaunted honesty - his endless presentation of himself as a purveyor of the difficult truths which are so often just easy prejudices in drag - but there is something genuine about it as well. And any man who can describe his angle of erection as "less that of a high-powered industrial crane and more that of a gently opened cat-flap" must have something going for him.

Towards the end of the show, when David Baddiel invites the audience to ask him questions to use up the time he would otherwise have had to fill with humorous material, a voice from the back of the auditorium demands, "Who's funnier, you or Frank?" When the answer rings out across the stalls -- with better comic timing than any the star of the show has managed in the course of the evening - "Frank!", Baddiel has no trouble laughing. And why should he? While his demonic sofa-mate's ability to control the minds of a live crowd verges on the sinister, Baddiel simply relies - not unreasonably on tonight's evidence - on the hope that his audience likes him.

Richmond Theatre (0181 940 0088), tonight; then touring until 27 May.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Primary teaching roles in Ipswich

    £21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education re...

    Science teachers needed in Norwich

    £21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teachers requ...

    Semi Senior Accountant - Music

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

    English teachers required in Lowestoft

    £21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified English tea...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits