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Henry Paker: Classic Paker

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Julia Chamberlain

Casually debonair, Henry Paker is a performer so polished and smooth that Leslie Phillips might play him in the film, although he doesn’t have the actor’s wolfish aspect. In his physical mannerisms he invokes a young Leonard Rossiter, vocally he’s a ringer for Eddie Izzard.

He made an immediate connection with audience member Scott, a strapping hunk of a man wearing shorts and Crocs, who became the yardstick for all matters of masculinity for the rest of the show, but done with such lightness of touch that everybody had fun. The only slightly jarring note was a bit of hugging, which I just didn’t feel sat naturally with Paker’s rather proper demeanour. English gents simply don’t hug.

The show is loosely a relationship anxiety show with a sweet structure of examining ‘women’ by the multiple personalities that his fiancée seems to have. It’s a nice device to demonstrate some comfortable stereotypes: vampish, French Genevieve at dinner in her heels and earrings metamorphoses into comfy Sue in tracksuit bottoms when they get home, then there’s the blessed Admin Yasmin who makes his life run smoothly.

It’s funny because it’s true, for sure, but much of his material is an over-familiar concern. What sets him apart is the elegance and economy of his expression, elevating this show beyond the quotidian. There’s not a spare syllable or hesitation in the whole hour, he is as precise as music and the audience were delighted to follow his tune.

If might seem picky, but I’m going to complain that one of his routines was almost word-for-word an Izzard routine about the narrow margin of edibility between the rock-like qualities of unripe fruit and squishy over-ripeness. Izzard cites a pear, Packer an avocado pear. It’s such a well known routine – it must be if I remember it – that it seems bizarre that he’s used it.

Overall, there’s nothing startlingly original about the content here; but it’s presented with a fabulous narrative arc and tremendous panache that is utterly winning and delights an audience.

Review date: 20 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Julia Chamberlain

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