Steve Young: The Pete Best Of Comedy

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Native Louisianan Steve Young has the sort of deep, authoritative voice that wouldn’t be out of place booming out of your AM radio as you drove across the American plains. That, combined with his powerful stage presence means that he certainly commands attention.

His confidence and formidable performance skills mean he’s great at setting, and maintaining, a lively mood, even in this sparsely filled pub venue on a gorgeous bank holiday Sunday afternoon. He would surely make for a fine compere of almost any room.

But the material is less impressive, starting with so many tired old jokes about rural inbreds, applied to both his current home in The Fens and his family’s home in West Virginia. There are only so many times you can here the old ‘gimme six’ quip or pub gags along the lines of ‘What’s the definition of a virgin in Lincolnshire’? before it becomes old.

As he moves off the hackneyed icebreakers, the routines remain formulaic; his favourite trick being to reimagine a classic tale with modern sensibilities. Thus Jesus becomes a gun-toting action hero booming ‘I’ll be back’ after his resurrection, Winnie The Pooh becomes an angry student slacker getting antsy about his stolen honey or Mary Poppins is updated so Chim Chim Cher-ee becomes an urban rap.

These set pieces all allow the larger-than-life American to show off that stage dominance again, but the content’s all pretty obvious, as are his pedestrian observations about New Orleans and its Mardi Gras celebrations. And the less said about his gratuitous, unsubtle boasts about his proficiency in oral sex, the better. His comments on the vagaries of the British as seen through an outsider’s eyes, are more successful, however.

His titular claim to be the Pete Best of comedy isn’t covered, aside from the fact they both came from modest beginnings. It’s really just a hook for his one-gag thesis that Best was dropped from the Beatles for being too good-looking. There’s no suggestion here that Young narrowly missed out on similar comedic megastardom.

Neither is their any such evidence in his solid-but-unspectacular act. It’s a reasonably entertaining hour, and Young – who performs in dapper waistcoat – is clearly a thoroughly engaging character. But the quality of the jokes just doesn’t match the quality of the performance.

Review date: 25 May 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton Quadrant

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