Jack Whitehall Live

DVD review by Steve Bennett

The criticism most often levelled at Jack Whitehall, that he shot to fame before being able to find his own distinctive comic voice, is not entirely dispelled by his debut DVD.

For so much of his material sticks to such familiar ground, it’s as if a computer algorithm has analysed the output of every club comic to come up with the script, choosing topics and references based on their statistical occurrence alone. That’s what people clearly want.

So he talks us through a Jeremy Kyle show, has a reference to Anne Frank, chats about things that happened on the train, and reinforces the idea of Glaswegians being tough and fighty. Is that enough boxes ticked?

As for his take on the London riots, it’s to notice that some people looted Lidl and mock them for their lack of ambition – like just about every other comic did at the time. Fifteen months on and all he can do is add an outdated ‘this isn’t just looting... this is Marks and Spencer looting’ tag on the end.

If you’ve not seen much comedy before, this is certainly funny enough - and Whitehall delivers it very well, if slightly theatrically. Yet for the more voracious consumers of comedy, it’s so generic, it’s hard to care.

But if you can get past such hackery without reaching for the eject button, Whitehall eventually gets into some classier first-hand stories that have a much greater pull, leaning on his persona as a camp posh boy unable to be one of the lads. Thankfully that self-awareness avoids all the tedious self-described ‘banter’ that similarly privileged, well-educated early twentysomethings inflict on people in real life.

His Christmas anecdote - perfectly set for the December DVD market – offers a wonderfully surreal humiliation; his attempt at a grown-up relationship crashes down amusingly; and while the story about going to a gig depends heavily on another overrused comic reference, a midget, it’s his gaucheness that provides the laughs.

Finally, the encore, about his imagined nemesis Robert Pattinson, delivered while wearing a preposterous outfit that nicely undercuts any potential high ground, is very strong comic performance.

And throughout the 90 minutes, Whitehall’s passion injects everything with vigour, while he’s quite the personable self-effacing presence. The only complaint on technique is that he over-uses the device of making an ‘accidental’ stumble, then spinning off a routine based on that.

The result is a solidly OK release – giving hint that Whitehall could be an excellent comedian, but not quite delivering on that promise because he plays it far too safe.

Published: 19 Nov 2012

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.