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Micky Flanagan

Micky Flanagan

Nominated for the if.comedy award for best newcomer at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe.

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Micky Flanagan: Back In The Game

Micky Flanagan: Back In The Game

He might now be a famous comic, earning a fortune selling ‘out out’ big theatres (and, soon, arenas) but Micky Flanagan has far spent too long as a playfully dodgy East End geezer to ever lose his common touch.

This follow-up to the breakthrough tour that was a decade in the making contains nothing as magnificently crafted and performed as either his trademark ‘out, out’ routine or the delightful description of dining out at a swanky restaurant with its carefully cultivated ‘ombayonce’, but still proves Micky’s a bit tasty when it comes to the stand-up game.

That’s down to two almost indefinable, intrinsic things: the distinctive rhythms and contorted vowels of the Cockney patios, and his mischievous attitude towards sneaking an easy life through a series of small, dubious victories – both of which play into a hardwired British stereotype of blokes from his part of the capital.

Confessing to being ‘quite a big fan of low-level crime’ is the most blatant match to that image, heralding a story of how he recently swiped a couple of mini pork pies from an motorway service station, despite his new-found wealth. Yet it comes across not as another crack in Broken Britain, but a triumph for the little man against the out-of-touch corporations who have no idea how much a sandwich should cost.

More domestically, he wants a life away from the conversational burdens of marriage, and dreams of the days his wife will leave him home alone, where wanking and eating a white-bread sausage sandwich (not simultaneously) become exquisite treats.

These are first-hand anecdotes that are – to use an appalling word so beloved by media luvvies - ‘relatable’. While pouring scorn on his father’s tall war stories and childhood that was not just poor, but ‘Africa poor’ demonstrates a flippant approach to another authority figure, that fits in nicely with his Everyman credentials, so ably demonstrated throughout.

In Iceland and Italy, comedians have become politicians, upsetting entrenched systems with their populist policies. And Flanagan could probably join them, with his sure touch. He’s already got a name for his movement, ‘The Cup Of Cold Piss Party’ – named after both the substance he wants to chuck at politicians every time they utter some lie-covering platitude, and the vessel he’ll use to execute that protest.

But it’s on the eternal subject of the co-existence of men and women that Flanagan has most to say. It risks sliding into cliche, but just about avoids it simply by dint of the situations he describes seeming so familiar to anyone in a relationship. However the supposedly climactic story of his then girlfriend getting angry as he spent a night in the pub when he’d promised to be home seems over-familiar, even if he chanced upon a unique way to get off the hook that gives this tour its title.

Overworked ideas come into other routines, too, most notably those about aging, where he’s treading on ground about middle-age maladies that so many other male comics who’ve turned a landmark age (Flanagan was 50 last year) have already been. for example, although there is obviously something inherently comic about the awkward forced intimacy of a prostate examination, Flanagan joins a long line of stand-ups simply describing that moment in the hope that’s enough.

Similarly, do we need more routines about self-service supermarket checkouts? Cheap jokes about how he’d love to travel incognito under a burkha? Or descriptions about how all the recreational drugs he’s taken through the decades made him feel? Not really, and such routines seem like padding, comprising the sort of unexceptional material you’d find from any long-in-the-tooth comedy club journeyman, even if they are delivered in his distinctive and assured style.

The risk highlighted by these weaker routines is that Flanagan will become an over-exposed, if high-earning, ‘personality’ more than a comedian trying to perfect his art – a path that many before him have taken.

This show feels as if he’s at that intersection, a solid second tour (on this scale) rather than one that’s taken a stride forward. But Flanagan’s an innately funny man, and there are plenty of handy anecdotes here to ensure an entertaining night for his increasing legion of fans. What a diamond geezer.

Thursday 21st Mar, '13
Steve Bennett

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