Anvil Springstein: A Little Bit Near The Knuckle

Note: This review is from 2003

Review by Steve Bennett

Anvil Springstien looks very nervous. Striding onto stage in faded sweaty vest and jeans, he spends the first five minutes warming the audience up and asking how they are, anxiously reassuring them that he hasn't started yet ("Don't worry, you won't have to listen to an hour of this shite.")

Springstien begins his set by explaining that he is a Scouser, dealing with the stereotype by telling, then denouncing the kind of (conveniently amusing) jokes Liverpudlians have to deal with.

He then proceeds, slightly hypocritically, to slate the people of Newcastle and Carlisle, treading the well-worn topics of lack of clothing and working-class sources of entertainment. Unfortunately, his jokes bemuse the foreign section of the audience, while the rest chuckle half-heartedly. Anvil looks worried. "Is this okay? Are you happy?" Everyone nods politely. Thirty seconds later, two women walk out.

The comic looks shocked. "Bitches," he spits, but it's defused by a grin. Then it's onto taking a televisual nostalgia trip back to the days of Stingray, Thunderbirds and "better telly all round".

The older British members of the audience laugh along, reminiscing. Everyone else just looks baffled as he asks questions like: "How can a fish be a sex symbol?" Two minutes later, he tells a string of amusing if unambitious jokes about adverts, including the Scottish Widows woman ('How long is she going to be bloody grieving for?'), and the crowd are back on his side.

Springstien's main assets are his likeability and humbleness. He underplays his status as comic, as though he is merely the funny man in the pub and the audience hasn't paid to see a show at all, continually asking us whether we are all right and apologising if they aren't.

He also talks fast, taking a non-stop, stream-of-consciousness approach to stand-up, meaning that although his material is hit and miss, there are enough hits to hold the crowd's attention.

The show ends with Springstien exhorting us to "tell those two who walked out what they missed". In truth, their lives wouldn't have changed had they stayed, but they would certainly have been entertained.

Review date: 1 Aug 2003
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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