Lee Nelson

Lee Nelson

Real name: Simon Brodkin

Lee Nelson: Suited & Booted

Note: This review is from 2015

Review by Steve Bennett

Even before the Fringe stared, Lee Nelson’s creator Simon Brodkin set the bar high for himself, thanks to another of his alter-egos. Showering Sepp Blatter in cash as an apparent World Cup bribe from the North Koreans was a brave, hilarious and satirical stunt that helped highlight the Fifa President’s fall from grace in front of the world’s media.

That nothing in his new live show matches that for wit and daring is to be expected; though the shame is that he doesn’t even really try, seemingly content to coast for an hour largely on crowd work and low-hanging gags.

The show’s called Suited And Booted since Nelson has ditched his garish shell suits … after all, Brodkin’s pushing 40 and nylon’s unbecoming on a man that age. But the character’s otherwise the same cocky Cockney geezer he ever was.

There’s no denying he works the room like a boss, he always has, this laddish ‘legend’ a master of the bantz. He sets up running jokes with several guys in the room: you’re the old-timer; you’re the teenager with a close relationship with your wrist, you’re the Scots pitched against English. Yet he doesn’t do more than obvious gags, and little comes as a surprise. . Finding an American ‘legend’, his response is: ‘Don’t shoot me!’ and we move on… that’s not even trying. Nelson was once on a par with Al Murray for his quick wit with the audience, now his comebacks are at the level of a pub-gig compere.

The looseness of the proceedings and the quick back-and-forths nonetheless give the gig an pleasing energy. And by far biggest laugh came from a perfect moment of serendipity, part pure chance but also part caused by a running gag Nelson had set up in an earlier moment of ad lib, albeit one about him getting down and dirty with a woman in the second row..

Feeding off the audience is often, of course, just a way into his prepared material, where again gags prove formulaic. The line: ‘If we get the euro, that’s Poundland fucked’ is surely as old as the single currency itself. Puns are everywhere, especially when he talks about multicultural Britain: prophets muddled with profits, for instance.

But generally his system is to get sincere with a thought, then demolish it with an obvious reveal. Which may be the basis for 90 per cent of comedy, but Nelson is stuck into such a fixed pattern that a tuned-in brain will get to every punchline before he does, and never be outdone by a better line from the stage. Luckily for Nelson, audience aren’t trying to think one line ahead, but he seems to be squandering a talent by not trying harder to deliver surprises.

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Published: 15 Aug 2015


DVD (2012)
Lee Nelson Live


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