Miles Jupp  | Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Ambassadors Theatre, London

Miles Jupp

Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Ambassadors Theatre, London

Miles Jupp doesn’t immediately do much to thwart expectations. Just a couple of plummy syllables of that posh voice and you’d peg him as a fogeyish, cricket-loving, slightly pompous arse, with impeccable breeding but difficulty relating to the messier real world.

And so it transpires in the tweedy version of himself he projects in his stand-up, as he tuts at litterbugs or comes off worse in an encounter with feckless, reckless teens. Preserving his decorum isn’t just a challenge in the outside world. With four children under five – ‘infant captors’ he calls them –  no moment at home is his own in a chaotic maelstrom of preparations, clean-ups and relentless questions.

Jupp isn’t the first comedian to bemoan a life lost to offspring or to have come off worse in street encounters with uncouth youths, but the joy here is in the detail. Jupp has put his good education to excellent use, with every adjective a delight, every turn of phrase exquisite. He’s a man who gets his authority from language – well, it certainly isn’t from a laddish swagger – and nails every line. The thoughts are as precise as the writings, and he adds tags to his anecdotes that perfectly nudge them on to yield unexpected extra laughs.

The comedy is one-part recognition, one-part laughing at his inappropriately grandiose reaction to every inconvenience. The combination of his rigidity, pride and self-deprecating awareness of both plays well not only to the demographic he shares with Waitrose-shopping Radio 4 listeners, but also those who would mock that cushy lifestyle.

Jupp is only 34 but knows he is ‘prematurely aged’, both physically and intellectually, and the first half of his new touring show is a delightful description of the toll his children take and the anarchic threat they pose to his well-ordered life, culminating in a brilliantly passionate rant about the very first-world problem of dishwasher stacking.

Having proved his funniness beyond doubt, he takes a more relaxed approach to the more fragmented second half, which starts with an excellent joke to undermine his righteousness before pushing on to the oddities being a minor celebrity – from talking nonsense on The Wright Stuff to being recognised for his long-running role as Archie The Inventor on Balamory, even among comedy club audiences who cannot distinguish fact from fiction.

The material here is a little more everyday, even the climactic tale of a certain antipodean comic who soiled his trousers pre-gig, but again the stories are enlivened by the turn of phrase contained in his exaggerated dismissals of the likes of Twitter or coffee, both of which have pervaded everyday life, much to his disapproval.

There’s even a little bit of politics as he bemoans the standard of newspaper-led public debate that means there’s more concern for the Prime Minister’s record on eating Cornish pasties than there is on his savage cuts to services affecting anyone who dares be disabled, old or ill. Of course the triviality of the coverage is a good target, and he mocks its futility most effectively, even though the routine doesn’t quite built up to the same impact as his more domestic concerns. But at least he’s trying to push himself beyond the Middle England observational rants which he does so expertly, and for which there seems to be an almost insatiable demand.

Review date: 12 Feb 2014
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Ambassadors Theatre

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