Bob Mills – Original Review

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

The problem for comics who only rarely dip their toe into the circuit is to keep tabs on what’s sounding tired - and that’s something that’s more-than evident in Bob Mills’s set.

He may have the laddish, everyman charm, the easy confidence of more than two decades in the business and some nifty gags; but for large chunks of his set the subject matter is looking very dog-eared.

A lot of it is based on the old regional stereotypes, as if responding to the old compere’s fallback of ‘where you from?’ So he’ll repeat the astonishing fact that the Welsh language has a lot of vowels or some Scotsmen like a drink.

The only time this really works is in his rants against the north, drawing on the age-old rivalry and succeeding because his distain for the poor, backwards idiots who inhabit these latitudes knows no limits. The unnecessary, unremitting pettiness of the attack is funny in itself, and builds up a good head of steam.

On the other hand, the segment about people from some rural backwater being inbred just trots out the same old lines about inbreeding and Wicker Men – including Bill Hicks’ old line of being introduced to someone’s wife and sister ‘and there was only one person there…’ It’s lazy stuff.

His defence to all this joshing is that he’s from London’s East End – which he admits is just as rubbish as anywhere else in the nation.

Unfortunately, the main way he expands on that is my imagining how useless the 2012 Olympics will be. And it’s pretty much the same collection of comedically shitty events just about anyone with a sense of humour and hour or two spare could come up with. Again, too much of the material is of the standard of an open spot who doesn’t know any better.

Mills comes into his own, though, when he gets more personal – and is so often the case. His rough dad, a real EastEnder with the tattoos, fighting injuries and emotional detachment to prove it, provides the best comic fodder of the night.

There’s good jokes in much of Mills’s set, and his seen-it-all-before blokeishness is a winning stance that’s been much copied. The only problem is now he’s been out of the loop too long to stand apart from the derivatives, except in the assured way he can hold a stage.

Hopefully his recent forays back into the circuit mark the start of a transition, and he’ll soon be able to abandon the safety net of the tried-and-tested topics that no longer hold any interest.

Review date: 17 Oct 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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