Friday, 19 February 2010

Lee Evans sticks to a winning formula

Can 80,000 Lee Evans fans be wrong?
The compact Essex clown has just completed four sold-out shows with one more to come, shattering the previous comedy record of two shows set by Chris Rock this year.
Making 16,000 fans a night giggle takes some beating.
It is a shame that at times yesterday the laughs were dwarfed by the scale of the event.
The trouble is that to be this popular one inevitably succumbs to lowest common denominator syndrome.
Evans is the Oasis of stand-up. Huge but rarely groundbreaking.
Thus we get well-thumbed topics — sport,road rage, nagging wives, adverts, phones.
His observation about razors having ridiculous names such as Turbo and Stealth was also made to me by a Broadstairs chemist on Sunday.
Although, unlike Evans, he did not run around like a demented chimp as he said it.
It was the physicality that saved the day. A blind acquaintance recently remarked that he used to love this people’s champion until he lost hissight and realised that minus the comic contortions and Chaplinesque waddling the gags were pedestrian.
With body and mouth in synch though, there were still some fine moments, such as when he wondered why it is easier to don a coat alone than when someone is helping and then demonstrated the scenario.
Evans bobbed and weaved like a prizefighterand sweated by the bucketload, but truly knockout punchlines were few and far between.
Topical material extended little beyond a line about Northern Rock and a diatribe against hospitals, which are so plagued by superbugs that “Mrs Mopp is in charge now”.
A joke about being unable to remove CD wrappers felt threadbare in this download age.
It was a reminder that Evans, with his riffs about being henpecked and his sincere “now this is me” musical encore, is strangely old school.
Then again, when he did try something different, such as his quickfire portrait of a relationship from speed date to divorce, he received only polite applause.
The audience wanted new hits that sounded like the old hits or just the old hits.
Evans eventually gave them what they wanted, closing with his much-loved Bohemian Rhapsody mime.
A classic routine in every sense, shame the fresh material could not match it