Past experience has taught me that watching comedians live is a risky business, last night though I took the plunge and I’m glad I did.
As a bit of a treat for myself while Mrs Jones was at a work conference I took off to London for the day, something my semi-retired status theoretically allows me to do whenever I want.
I went to see Frank Skinner at the Garrick Theatre. In my near 60 years on this planet I’ve seen just three comedians live – Ben Elton, Al Murray and Dara O’Briain.
Elton and O’Briain you’d think would be fairly cerebral and maybe Al Murray would be somewhat thought-provoking, his pub landlord character is, after all, supposed to be ironic.
All the acts were a disappointment, relying heavily on so-called banter with the audience which in each case comprised largely of lots of swearing and some fairly predictable and sometimes unpleasant put-downs.
Gladly Skinner restored my faith in live comedy. His friendly, self-effacing conversational style was refreshingly free of banter and political posturing.
It was his 63rd birthday that evening and this landmark and generally being in his sixties gave him lots of material.
This included a gag about how his libido had decreased so much in recent years hat he totally failed to notice a woman in a very short skirt that his wife had pointed out and then couldn’t be bothered to turn round to look. He seemed delighted that the curse of being a young man was now at an end, something thankfully I’ve still got ahead of me.
Other jokes related to the comfortable reality of long-term relationships, how he managed to scare himself with the sound of his own nose whistling – you had to be there – and a couple of very funny stories that were literally toilet humour.
I also particularly enjoyed his story about looking forward to his first trip to what he thought was going to be a sophisticated seventies nightclub only to discover people sat on the floor rowing to The Gap Band’s Oops Upside Your Head.
The whole phenomenon, did he said, have one upside – pun intended – GB has won of a sackful of medals in Olympic rowing ever since.
I know repeating jokes in writing in the cold light of the following morning somehow doesn’t cut it. I guess it’s the way he tells them.
The night finished with an impromptu and genuinely affectionate rendition by the audience of Happy Birthday, a convivial end to an evening of laughter.