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Eric Lampaert: Two Tickets To The Gum Show

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Jay Richardson

I can honestly say I've always thought Eric Lampaert was good-looking. Distinctive but good-looking. But beauty is clearly in the eye of the beholder, because there he is on page two of a Google Image search for 'Ugly Man'.

Family, friends, his psychiatrist, a scientist specialising in the skull structures of primitive man... no-one's shy in telling the Frenchman what unique features he has, not least the total strangers who post insults and death threats to him online. It's enough to give a man a complex.

Opening with a twist on the ‘who-do-I-look-like’ introduction, courtesy of a couple of wounding heckles he received at a gig in Milton Keynes, Lampaert has long accepted that he has prominent gums. Combined with his saucer eyes, disappearing chin and wild mane of hair, turns out it's a good face for advertising, getting him cast in a commercial for Sky broadband with Bruce Willis – a bit of a prick, apparently – but also finding his likeness ripped off by a Mexican concrete company, with the strapline 'You must be crazy if you think there's better concrete…' With his weird level of fame, vague facial familiarity rather than name recognition, he even has a doppelgänger, stealing his drinks during a run of gigs at Butlins.

Bi-lingual and raised in several different countries, Lampaert suggests other complexities in his development and genetic structure, some more tongue-in-cheek than others. Gangly tall and thin, with a frustratingly high metabolism, he wields his spindly frame effectively, a prancing popinjay delivering a seemingly superfluous bit about annoying airport security.

The first to take the piss out of himself, he's compiled a book full of the insults he's heard and implores his detractors to be more imaginative, but also to take better care of their spelling and grammar. Though hardly the first comic to turn the tables on the trolls with a pyrrhic victory of pedantically correcting them, the virulent personal nature of the attacks adds extra edge, especially since there's a racial aspect to it. No, not his Gallic heritage but the fact that beneath his flowing locks, Lampaert has an Occipital bump, a throwback linking him to Neanderthal man.

That's quite a (genetic) leap to make but he justifies it with a brilliant rap reclaiming the N-word and instinctively seeing Neanderthal racism everywhere. His perversely defiant attitude established, he responds to the Mexicans by claiming that yes, actually, he does know a company that sells better concrete.

Such enjoyable little set-pieces, hung off the core narrative would be sufficient to make this a perfectly enjoyable, self-deprecating hour of stand-up. But Lampaert is increasingly realising how to incorporate his quirky physicality into his comedy and closes with a very funny playlet in which he travels to Mexico, to be hailed as a god, until he gets on the wrong side of organised crime. Superbly drawing together and incorporating all the strands he's related before, in a smart and organic manner, it's a barnstorming, all-gums-blazing conclusion to a broad-shouldered, soul-baring show.

Review date: 23 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson

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