Chris Henry

Chris Henry

Chris Henry started stand-up in May 2003, and in 2009 was a finalist in the Scottish Comedian Of The Year competition.
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Chris Henry: We Need To Talk

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Jay Richardson

A former Butlins Redcoat, Chris Henry dances suggestively at a girl in the front row, dragging her up to spin and grind at her in front of her boyfriend. The soundtrack is 90s charts hits, the themes from Titanic and Dirty Dancing, and the waistcoated Glaswegian knows all the moves. It’s about as cheesy and high-energy an opening as you could conceive, as Henry’s a cocksure performer and a Jack the Lad, sliver of a grin away from being a sexual predator.

What follows is some adequate but pretty workaday stand-up about his Catholic upbringing and the rougher areas of Glasgow, the attractiveness of an Irish accent and the novelty of his pronunciation in London – superficially self-deprecating but barely denting his status as the man in control with the mic.

Even when introducing the recurring phrase of his life, ‘we need to talk...’ and relating the loss of his first love, a fellow Redcoat, he mines the sympathy while slipping in that he was 18 and she was 23. Henry roamed widely in his twenties, and while there were lots of romantic ups and downs, you’re left in no doubt that there was plenty of sex too. And that he’d happily add another notch to the bedpost post-gig if any lady would be so accommodating.

But then something interesting happens. Recalling his last relationship – he was 31, she was 22, another cause for macho pride – he recalls not only was he the one cheated on and dumped, but also the Facebook-hacking tactics he employed to find out. The mood in the room shifts from indulgence for this swaggering manchild to perceivable awkwardness, an atmosphere that he pursues further when he turns his triumphant, James Bond-style comeback into something decidedly unpalatable.

Without wishing to spoil what’s an enjoyably candid show, further revelations colour everything and foreground his desperation. Plenty of people have needed a talk with Henry it transpires. And while he’s far from being the only guilty party in his account, it’s refreshing for a male comic to crack throwaway gags that could broadly be described as ‘misogyny comedy’ but which truly personalise and own his past behaviour. He risks both his likeability and authority, making little in the way of excuses.

At this point he’s regrettably sidetracked into messing about with foreign accents and perceived racism and playing games with his brother’s kids. The first routine, certainly, possibly isn’t as provocative as he thinks, but it’s all reasonable club set comedy. An initially witty comparison between various religions and Tenerife nightclubs becomes too contrived and over-stretched, however.

More compelling is when he reveals how he’s resumed dating, his scurrilous observations of Glasgow nightlife benefitting from what now seems a more honest perspective. When he breaks out the dance moves again, Vogueing for all he’s worth, there’s a genuinely sympathetic appreciation for his tragic performance of Tragedy ...

It would be overstating the case to suggest that Henry has undergone a Damascene conversion that’s revolutionised his comedy. But he’s certainly had some scales fall from his eyes, particularly regarding his father and how far the acorn has fallen from the tree. He closes on a mostly positive note, with his life turning around, but pushing his business cards, declaring that he’ll talk to anyone about performing in their local pub. It feels less desperate than business-minded, though. And on the basis of this uneven but truthful, even daring show, he deserves the custom.

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Published: 25 Mar 2013


Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Chris Henry: Only the Good Die Young

Edinburgh Fringe 2016

Chris Henry: Chris' World

Edinburgh Fringe 2017

Chris Henry: Ignorance Is Chris


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