Michael McIntyre – Original Review | Review by Steve Bennett

Michael McIntyre – Original Review

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

In the fickle world of comedy, Michael McIntyre is about as fashionable as Herman’s Hermits. On 8-Track.

His show reveals absolutely nothing about him, or the world. There’s no surrealism, few one-liners and little cynicism - and the politics goes no further than a few silly comments about Gordon Brown’s glass eye. He’s not got the natural charismatic pizzazz of a Russell Brand, nor the searing intellect of a Stewart Lee.

Why, then, is he so funny?

The answer is pure craftsmanship. He has painstakingly fashioned the slickest, most universally accessible routines around, with such meticulous attention to detail that ensures the laughs come with near-perfect efficiency.

The obvious thing to say is that he’s a British Seinfeld – even though he wouldn’t be the first stand-up to invite that comparison. His material, like the American sitcom, could easily be said to be ‘about nothing’, built as it is upon the inconsequential observations of common behaviour, from finding free newspapers on public transport, to overtaking on a country road. Even the act of walking forms his encore, as demanded by the vociferous front row, that’s how common and uncontentious his material is. No one will be lost here.

Yet in practice, this broad subject matter is nowhere near as bland as it would be in the hands of a lesser comic. And most observational stand-ups are lesser than this consummate pro, by a long chalk. To understate the case, McIntyre has a nice way of putting things, perfectly encapsulating the everyday, inconsequential situations he’s describing. With such skilful use of words, this comedy artisan reveals to the audience things everyone has noticed, but nobody had noticed that they’d noticed.

The breath of his material is impressive; there’s nothing that happens in the theatre, from a nose-blowing to a latecomer revealing they’d come from Ireland, that can’t be used a segueway into some highly polished routine, which gives the near two-hour show a satisfying fluidity. In the second half, especially, he becomes a little more relaxed, riffing about the venue and embarking on embarrassing anecdotes that he professes not to have planned on sharing.

Not that they show him in a particularly bad light, however – this isn’t the show for that. Despite being half-Canadian and half-Hungarian, his public-school upbringing has instilled in him the British middle-class way of being able to talk amiably at great length, without once giving away any glimpse of what he might really be feeling.

There’s a slight twinge of sarcasm at the heart of some of his gags, but they are so deeply buried under his upbeat exterior that the mood is always jolly. And, anyway, his finest routines, which surely deserve classic status, have no need for attitude, as he hilariously describes the way we give out mobile phone numbers, or ask the time, or queries why some words become permanently coupled together like ‘nooks and crannies’.

It’s all delivered with the confidence, charm and quartz timing that well serves this perfectly honed material. He employs a demonstrative physicality, too, when the need arises, gallivanting around the stage with his own silly walks to inject some dynamism into an already sparkling show.

This one-off night at London’s Lyric Theatre to bring his national tour to a close was McIntryre’s first solo West End show. He was looking forward to seeing his name in lights, so was rather deflated to see it was just a few A4 sheets Blu-Tacked to the box office door.

But with an exquisitely crafted show, with such universal appeal, they should probably start ordering the lightbulbs now. The joy is that behind the carefully – some may say cynically – packaged allure is plenty of genuinely uproarious comedy gold. Michael McIntyre is in serious danger of giving ‘mainstream’ a good name.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
London, December 2007

Review date: 4 Dec 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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