Comedy review: Nick Griffin

Stand-up Kevin Bland reviews an unusual comedy performance

For someone who has been on the circuit for so long, and despite a not insignificant following in the North, Griffin still looks ill at ease when taken out of his comfort zone, lacking the stagecraft and charm to win over a more cosmopolitan audience.

Some of his material too is anchored firmly in a bygone era, although he does show flashes of a more promising, surrealist outlook – the segments on militant homosexuals being prevented from peddling their ideology in schools and Lake District walking tours being cancelled due to the non participation of non-whites being the most memorable – but even these brighter moments are all too brief, bookended as they are by dreary, garbled invective. He even resorts to the hackneyed “’My Dad was in the RAF during the war, so I’m not a Nazi’ putdown when dealing with an all too regular heckling.

And quite often, it’s the hecklers who have the best lines, never a good thing for a performer like Griffin, whose material is purportedly designed to change people’s perceptions but succeeds instead on highlighting his own shortcomings.

During one of many increasingly heated exchanges, in which a member of the audience ‘hilariously’ mispronounces Griffin’s Christian name (and it’s definitely a Christian name, apparently) he attempts to win back the lost ground by stating ‘facts’ which were supposedly ‘in the papers the other week’.

It’s little wonder that in the face of such a shocking lack of research this London audience refused to take a backward step, and again Griffin showed his inability to read an audience by blathering on about statistics from ‘some scientists’. And where were these statistics published? That’s right, in ‘some books’.

There comes a time in a performer’s career when he outgrows his earlier, weaker material, but such is the canon of Griffin’s work that even if he would like to forget it, the audience are only too happy to remind him of it. Some of it is quite breathtakingly bad, but then he has shared a platform with some of the most odious orators in the industry, and he's obviously picked up some bad habits along the way.

However, an off the cuff line about ‘an almost entirely non violent branch of the Ku Klux Klan’ raises hopes that some genuine comedy may be forthcoming, but it's a fleeting and ultimately forlorn hope.

Again, Griffin giggles self consciously and attempts to distance himself from his earlier material, but then not too far, as something curious occurs - a ripple of applause from somewhere near the back of the room. Is it sympathy or sarcasm? Or could it be that among these well-heeled, well educated West Londonites there is a smattering of Griffin’s fan base, which has been waiting to hear some of his greatest hits? Perhaps, but the support was brief, almost perfunctory.

Griffin and his ilk are always going to split a room, and whilst some of the supporting bill performed adequately, others missed their chance to show off their performance skills, and as so often is the case it was left to the MC to take the ‘gig of The night’ crown.

While very much not being this audience’s or this reviewer's particular cup of tea, it would I’m sure be an entirely different story to see him gig on home turf….amongst his ‘indigenous’ people if you like. But be warned, there is no place for you at one of his gigs unless you can trace your British roots back 17,000 years… or in layman’s terms, to ‘when the ice melted’.

With apologies to Chortle's Steve Bennett...

Published: 23 Oct 2009

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