Julian Clary: Natural Born Mincer tour
Show type: Tour
2003 UK tour
It's been more than four years since comedy's second-favourite homosexual toured; four years in which he's concentrated on panto, taken a role in the West End's Taboo - and completely forgotten what he's good at.
For the most part, this new show has all the feel of a stage school's end-of-term revue, full of theatrical showings-off, sloppily staged yet with the performers slapping on a showbiz smile and mugging through using their unshakeable believe in their own talents, despite any evidence to the contrary.
Even making allowances for the inevitable first-night glitches - and this would have been a woefully shoddy dress rehearsal, let alone a finished show - Natural Born Mincer is still a mess.
The writing is dismal, and has all the hallmarks of being thrown together at the last minute. Not that there is even that much too write, for the show is mostly musical. From the moment he arrives on stage in a giant motorised stiletto until he leaves in it a shower of glittering confetti, we are subjected to Clary droning out cover version after cover version in his wearingly affected way.
In this he is joined by the infuriating Hugh Jelly (think Christopher Biggins, but with less self-consciousness) and Gail Mackinnon, who can certainly belt out a cabaret number, though you do wonder whether more songs is really what this show needs.
But then things aren't much better when Clary does attempt some comedy, rather than the low-rent cruise ship cabaret that forms the bulk of this two-hour show.
There's a long, flat and virtually punchline-free stand-up routine that delves into a couple of episodes of his private lives. But here, as elsewhere, Clary's renowned mastery of the double entendre seems to have failed him. Most lines fail to attain the status of single entendres, let alone doubles, proving that needs wit and invention - not just an arch tone of voice - to make things sound a bit rude.
Only during one routine at the start of the second half do things really fizz, and that's when Clary returns to his one unassailable talent - embarrassing audience participation. A couple of hapless punters, specially selected to look positively ordinary beside Clary's shimmering glory, gamely squirm as they are forced into some ridiculous, but good-natured, skits.
But the quick-witted banter he shares with his foils only serves as an all-too-brief reminder of what magic Clary (who is spectacularly attired in a series of deliciously outre creations over the duration of the show) used to have.
At one point, he whines about Graham Norton, moaning that he stole his act. But maybe Clary should have been more careful not to lose it. This mincer is now using 90 per cent tripe.
March 19, 2003