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Lee Evans: Big
Lee Evans, one of Britain's best-loved stars of stage, screen and stand-up is once again poised to enter the record books with the UK's biggest ever live comedy gig.
With a total of 300,000 tickets available, Lee Evans: Big UK Tour 2008 will be not only Evan's largest tour to date but will make history by including the first comedy gig to grace the stage of the capital's O2 Arena.
Original Review:Can 80,000 fans be wrong? That’s how many Lee Evans is playing to at the O2 Arena alone – plus the hundreds of thousands more across the country and on DVD.
But I found this to be two-and-a-half hours of the most obvious, bland and unfunny stand-up I’ve seen from a major act in a long time. Evans has never been cutting-edge – it’s unlikely he would be this popular if he were – but he seemed uncharacteristically light on charm, and even lighter on material.
It’s always going to be difficult to project much personality in an area this stupidly immense, especially when your stock-in-trade is the exaggerated expressions pulled on your silly-putty face. That’s hard to see from several hundred yards away in seats so high you need a Sherpa to get to, even with the aid of big screens.
The venue certainly offers its share of problems. The sound echoes around so much Evans might as well be performing in his bathroom, and unexpected laughs can erupt from odd quarters of the Dome, making for a very odd dynamic.
But that was nothing as to the problems of the dreary material. Parts of it were hack, repeating tired subjects and opinions so often done before, while others weren’t even that good, just a litany of moans you could here in any pub, let alone comedy club. It’s all very well being an Everyman comic, but surely you should think of things not every man has also thought of? The difficult task of the observational comic is to throw new light on mundane things the rest of us barely pay notice to. Evans just tells us what we already knew, with no twist or embellishment, save for an exaggerated physicality in the delivery.
Don’t you hate it when you get stuck behind a tractor? Aren’t automated phone lines annoying? Traffic wardens – what are they like? Footballers on 90 grand a week… bleedin prima donnas, they are. At times its like sitting in the back of a 16,000-seater cab as the driver vents his spleen.
Some of the whines seem particularly ungracious, the previously likeable, ordinary bloke coming across remarkably mean-spirited, getting unconvincingly angry at not being allowed as many plastic bags as he damn well likes at he supermarket, or berating menial workers like late-night Tesco shelf-stackers who get in his way. Sorry, my sympathy’s with the minimum wage night-shifter, not the millionaire entertainer.
His wife seems to get the brunt of it, though, in his grossly oversimplified ‘difference between men and women’ bit. He assures us at the end that he loves his life, to a huge collective ‘aah’, but the segment is so generic, it’s clearly not personal.
I’m dog-tired of comics telling me ‘you know what women are like, they remember every detail, then throw them up in arguments…’ What humour is there in unthinkingly repeating this lazy observation, which was never too astute in the first place? To appropriate another well-worn relationship line: If Evans doesn’t know what’s wrong with this – well, I’m not going to tell him…
After 24 years of marriage, his contribution to the pool of knowledge on the gender divide includes: women carry a lot of crap in their handbags, collect lots of bottles in the bathroom, and like shopping for clothes. Well, strike me down with a copy of The Naked Eunuch.
‘Have you ever noticed…?’ he keeps asking, desperate for validation that his truisms have any meaning. ‘You ever seen that…’ ‘What is it with…?’, ‘Why is it that…?’
Some of these are almost parodies of bad stand-up; especially his lengthy section on sport, when he repeats the same formula ad nauseum. ‘What is it with the javelin? Throwing a big pointy stick! That’s fucking ridiculous. You don’t get that in other sports. Imagine doing it in football. It’d be like: Urrrrgh.. Ow! What the fuck?!’ OK, I made that up, but substitute other sporting procedures, such as the caddy in golf or drinking in darts, transpose it to another sport, act it out with silly voices and bingo! A tedious set.
There’s an old adage that ‘it’s funny cos it’s true’ – and in fairness as he whips through the domestic material at relentless pace, Evans does get lots chuckles of recognition, and several blatantly engineered applause breaks, when he pauses just too long after a routine, providing a subconscious trigger to clap. He doesn’t storm it – which may well be impossible in this vastness, but he does OK.
Simply describing his material can’t do justice to his physicality – but neither can he, when he’s a tiny dot on stage, performing beneath a four-storey projection of himself. In a club, he’d probably get by on his considerable strength of personality, but here I found him simply dull.
Still, there’s no accounting for popularity, and this creative low in an otherwise creditable career isn’t likely to dent his ability to play record-breaking gigs or releasing bestselling DVDs. But surely there should be more imagination in comedy, even very mainstream comedy, than this?
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Like to see you get up there and do what he does.... idiot!
I think you need to be a bit more easy going mate! You went to see a comedy show, now enjoy it! Have you any idea how hard it is to make up jokes? And especially about topical stuff in our everyday lives. Just imagine how funny it would be if you were sitting at home watching the FA Cup final and Frank Lampard gets injured and all of a sudden goes "Have you had an injury at work?" It would be absolutley hilarious! Don't get me wrong i hate to see a crap comedian but a record-breaking tour speaks for itself. And i say if you didn't like it, keep it to yourself! No one wants you bringing the funny mood down while were all watching Lee Evans happily ;)You might as well go and watch Songs of Praise if you can't appreciate good comedy
james stevens shut your mouth u burk ! you must be a complete and utter TWAT ! wat kind of fan are you to not notice that his latest DVD is completely brilliant you sound like an OAP, get a life n next time buy a ticket for a better seat!!!!! burk
I've been a devoted fan of Lee Evans since I was very small but i must say I had to take off my fan glasses for this tour and tell it like it is. BIG just wasn't great. went to see it at the MEN. It consisted of very very obvious jokes. No real talented spin on any ideas, and a disappointing never-ending song to finish. I would have enjoyed it more if i was sat in the front row. The fact is with Lee Evans, to enjoy his jokes you must be able to see his expressions. So sitting in the upper tier, you end up just watching the screen. I'd rather do that in the comfort of my own home. Big venues aren't made for stuff like this, specially lee evans's style. I agree with this review. Very true arguments. He did get giant laughs, though, and I was sat next to a couple who were in hysterics. All in all, nothing special.
Record breaking tour, so many people I know and have been to him, yet this critic (who sorry but never heard of you), is saying its a dull show, maybe your in the wrong job. When you have done the tours sold millions of DVDs and impressed thousands of people a night maybe you deserve to say how bad he is. But untill then sorry still have never heard of you.
Travelled from Fife down to Newcastle and wasn't disappointed. The guy is pure genius when it comes to making simple everyday things very funny with some exaggerating. A treat to watch and well worth the ticket money and 6 hour round trip.
I went to the gig at the Glasgow SECC on friday feeling rather chuffed that we had front row tickets. After being stuck in traffic for 2hours and missing the first 45minutes we expected a bit of stick from the man himself, what we didn't expect was to almost wet ourselves laughing at the genius he is but also for him to supply us with free tickets for tonight's show in Aberdeen because he felt bad we had missed half the show! Excellent man I was very very very impressed!
Thank you for this review - saw him last night at the SECC and agree with your analysis. I went along with no preconceptions as someone gave me the ticket. I was though firstly astonished by the sheer number of people there but then slightly bemused by the fact that I seemed to be the only one finding the routine decidely.. well.. average.. and not to say old hat. All the references to 'the wife' made me feel like I'd been taken back in time to some kind of Terry and June era. The 'why shoud I turn off my lights when China belches out co2' and similar dodgy comments about plastic bags was not only unfunny but also populist and simplistic. I did though appear to be very much the odd one out as most people seemed to be enjoyiong. But then it did feel like there was a bit of mass hysteria going on - I suppose when you pay that much for a ticket and are surrounded by thousands of devotees the compulsion to laugh must be greater. If you take away the the face contortions, which at the ned of the day you are watching on a big screen anyway there doesn't seem to be much there in terms of material..
Seen Lee Evans for the first time at Newcastle. I have never laughed so much! this lad is the cream of British comedy, for three hours he delivered non-stop hysteria,my whole body ached when we came out of the arena. Anyone who watches this, and has a complaint, I'm sorry, but you need to get a life. He never stops! No wonder he sweats! I was just sitting, and i was running with sweat!. He's just sheer comedy on wheels. and the wheels don't look like coming off, I hope not
People are all too quick to judge comedians like Lee Evans, yes he is mainstream but so what, you know exactly what you are getting when you go and see his show, and wow does he deliver. Having seen the Big Tour, yes it was very similar to the XL tour (having seen that also) but the jokes weren't the same and as Steve Hills puts, times are so depressing these days what is the harm in going out and laughing at jokes that yes may be obvious, but they are funny....what more do people want from a comedian? He may not be cutting edge but when the lights went out and he began the spotlight scene, to me, that was Lee Evans at his best, funny and entertaining. If anyone who hasn't seen the show is worrying after reading that review, don't, if you are a fan of Lee Evans (and having paid for your tickets i assume you are) you will not be disappointed.
I also wholeheartedly disagree with this review, if you go to a Lee Evans gig expecting anything different from the generic material he delivered, you probably wouldn't enjoy it. It is about the way that material is delivered! There is far too much "comedy snobbery" toward performers such as Lee Evans and Peter Kay, which, I believe stems from jealousy. Other comedians' acts only wish they could rely on such basic material to see them through a performance! But this is also a good thing, if everyone could deliver comedy this well,we wouldn't get such a diverse mix of material, opinions and views on the circuit. The main thing that disappoints me is the reviewers complete lack of mention of the musical piece on speed dating before the interval, as for me, this was highlight, showing Evans as the true performer he is. It takes a real talent to convey many emotions without clever wording or soundbites, almost a hark back to silent comedy and the geniuses championed by Paul Merton. In any case, it sounds like this reviewer had made their mind up about this verdict before even watching the performance, partly because they don't particularly like Evans' brand of comedy, and partly because of it being an arena show.
Couldn't disagree more with the review. The evening i had last night at the O2 was fantastic. The material was such that everyone could relate to and in depressing times it was good to see thousands leaving with beaming smiles. The automated telephone system an the stuff about him and his wife had me in tears. Grounded, humble and brilliant. Nothing more to say
I saw him on the first o2 date and I have to say it was the worst set of material he has ever done.very very disappointing,tired stuff. Where did it all go wrong for him? He was a true great once.
This tour is his best yet! The themes of the jokes are similar to his previous XL tour with the first half of the show focusing on the irritants of modern life and pointing out the absurdities we have to deal with. The second half was more about family life and his wife, who, he assures us, provides him with much of his inspiration. He has a great skill of making the audience relate to him, making us think “Yes, Lee, I know exactly what you mean!” Lee has an amazing talent doing sound effects and impressions which are featured through the show. Lee comes across as a genuine, nice guy. It was nice to see him acknowledging his Welsh roots, appreciating the audience and feeling very much at home in Cardiff! This show is extremely good value for money as the show lasted about three hours! The grand nature of the show’s production matched with Lee’s energy and effort makes it hard for other comedians to compete with him.
Travelled four hours from North of Ireland to Dublin on 14th July, had second row seats, was surprised how tiny Lee actually is, but this doesn't affect his vitality, energy and the complete ability to make all laugh. Had brilliant night and can't wait to see him again.
I saw Lee live in Barnstaple on June 26th. His new material borrows a few themes from previous stuff, but believe me when I say it is hilarious. His energy is still there and his wit is awesome. I love you Lee and would love to shake your hand like some lucky front-rowers got to. Look forward to the DVD in Nov.