Paul Tonkinson

Note: This review is from 2003

Review by Steve Bennett

When a comic's opening gambit is the tediously predictable "Where are you from? North Wales? Baa, baa..." you can only hope that things will start looking up.

And indeed they do, but such a lazy exchange is indicative of Paul Tonkinson's willingness to stick shamelessly to the tired and tested if it offers him some sort of safety net.

He frequently returns to the comfort zone of easy audience banter, or runs out a routine he's honed over the best part of a decade whenever he feels the new material needs a bit of a prop.

Not that the new stuff really needs much help; if nothing else, the solid observational anecdotes can be relied upon to get the audience laughing. Again, Tonks still plays it safe with tales of his Yorkshire childhood, extended routines about sexual practices and a bit of regional stereotyping - but it works.

And that's because, above all, Tonkinson's technique is faultless. He bounds animatedly around the space, delivers with perfect rhythm and puts his all into the silly voices and caricatured impressions of the folk who populate his tales.

It's the mark of a real pro that he can transfer so much energy into the audience, even one as sparse as tonight's was. And it's fair to say he stormed it, making us forget how few we were.

If only the material was as exciting as the performance, though.

This Fringe run - Tonkinson's first in four years - is, presumably, an attempt raise his profile after a lacklustre TV career. But if he wants to expand his range beyond the Jongleurs circuit where he is already an established feature, he really ought to be taking a few more risks.

Review date: 1 Jan 2003
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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