Tom Holmes: Die Doing What You Love | Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Leicester Square Theatre

Tom Holmes: Die Doing What You Love

Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Leicester Square Theatre

Stop the clocks, cut off the telephone... Tom Holmes is undergoing a creative rebirth in his comedy.

Yes, a four-year veteran of the circuit you've probably never heard of has decided the hates the broad, crowd-pleasing 'cheeky chappy' stuff he's been peddling up till now.

He presents it as a great leap forward, but in fact it means little more than swapping material about wanking and dogging for material about Sandra, the 'fat shit' at work with the wrong sort of trainers, and how he can't deal with hangovers. It's a small step in the right direction, but hardly Dylan going electric.

We get to see the 'old' him, too. In a case of having his hack cake and eating it, he performs the ten-minute set he wants to put behind him – although he doesn't hesitate to mention it makes him goes down well on bills where other comics have faltered.

Although Holmes sees the failings of that lowest-common denominator material, now he's older (29), married and expecting a child, he still berates the critic who called him out for being a old-fashioned club comic rather than anything more interesting. (Quick check: it wasn't Chortle)

This is one of several inward-looking bits about the comedy business in Die Doing What You Love, which is on a similar theme to a Correspondents article Holmes wrote for this website last year. There are complaints about musical comedians, the sexism in comedy debate, and what he sees as the poncey sort of stand-ups who pretentiously want their shows to be 'about' something. Yet by doing so he seems to be indulging in the very sort of cliquey dressing-room conversation he professes to hate. To be so against comedy's chattering classes, yet spend so much time reflecting their concerns seems unusual.

This section comes about halfway through, when the show suddenly stops being about him changing direction and instead is about him quitting stand-up – an angle he'd never previously mentioned. Is his debut hour also his last?

The one moment when he's the funniest suggests a direction he could have gone – when he does a silly and surreal bit of sausage-based prop comedy out of nowhere. Ironically, the second best gag in the set is in that set he's supposedly ditched, a bad-taste gem about Roy Castle. But mostly his new set is a mixture of navel-gazing and the sort of anecdotal comedy that might appeal to those who find Rob Beckett too avant-garde. Delivered well, though, that's for sure.

There's lots of talk in the show about having 'sold out' and 'not being true to himself', which seems overblown. He, like others of similar experience, is merely at a stage of his evolution as a comedian when he knows he can do the job, but start to wonder if he can use those skills to pursue more interesting directions.

The audience dominated by friends who pack the Leicester Square Theatre's basement studio seem interested, but it's hard to see this show having much wider resonance.

Review date: 14 Nov 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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