Julian Clary: Lord Of The Mince

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

From Julian Clary’s sloppy opening to his big climax, he’ll make your orifice gape wide open.

It’s called a yawn.

Where once this his act was playfully outrageous, it now seems largely mechanical; going through the formulaic motions to produce one ‘ooh missus’ moment after the next. Some of these retain their capacity to surprise and amuse – usually when he steers clear of the obvious innuendo – but all too often they hit a predictable rut.

When he mentions the chickens he keeps at his home, you know a mention of a ‘big cock’ isn’t far behind – while he seems to have called his new dog Jism, just so he can come up with contrivances about ‘Jism coming flying through the door’.

‘Dorking?’ he says quizzically, moments after roller-blading awkwardly on to the sloped stage in his shocking pink outfit. ‘Sounds like some sort of deviant sexual activity to me’. No shit, Julian, everything sounds like some sort of deviant sexual activity to you.

He just doesn’t seem to be trying any more, with his material delivered with more weariness than verve. But then it’s hard to muster up much enthusiasm for hoary old lines about ‘sucking on a Fisherman’s Friend’. One of the biggest chuckles comes from him telling the pub joke about going to the doctor, who tells him he’s going to have to stop masturbating. Why? Because she was trying to examine him. Very funny, but hardly original.

At least these are actual gags, however dated. While he may joke that much of his show is ‘aimless rambling’, it’s rather too close to the truth, as he fills us in on his now-mundane life as a settled 50-year-old who’s in a stable relationship with a communications strategist, off the booze, the drugs and the casual sex. Not exactly an inherently fascinating lifestyle.

His milestone age is the supposed inspiration for this show, allowing him to look back on his career; which pretty much means retelling the Norman Lamont joke that made him persona non grata after the British Comedy Awards 16 years ago, and some lame anecdotes from his time on Strictly Come Dancing – most of which seem to involve revelations about the pros’ penis sizes.

He has one story from his wayward youth about an Italian basketball player who he picked up for casual sex, despite his unconvincing protestations of heterosexuality, who it later transpired was an Albanian people trafficker bent on kidnapping him. Yet even this high drama is told in such a perfunctory way that Clary might as well be reading out the ingredients on a bowl of soup.

The second half offers more scope for the one thing Clary does still have an apparent interest in – bitching about the drearily unfashionable civilians who’ve trolled out to see him. But not before he’s gone through the comedy staple of reading out the local newspaper in a sarcastic voice, mocking the fact that little goes on in this sleepy town. He hits gold with a story about a flower and fruit competition, but not without getting through some easy sneering first.

Two victims are duly brought up on stage for the set-piece ending, some guff about psychic ability. Clary has some fun bantering with them, thought the actual bit of business he puts them through is remarkably shallow. Wear a blindfold and guess what you’re drinking, he tells the hapless victims, before holding up a card telling the audience that it’s ‘Vanessa Feltz’s recycled urine.’ And just how lazy a reference is that? Feltz is always the No 1 go-to celebrity if you can’t be arsed to think of a target for your joke.

Double entendres may be a timeless staple of British comedy, but they can go limp in the wrong hands – Oops there goes another one – and Clary’s starting to seem as dated as a Donald McGill postcard; a historical curiosity that has lost its capacity to shock and amuse, even if you retain a fondness for his work.

Review date: 9 Oct 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Dorking Halls

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