Karl Spain: Love... Whatever That Is

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

There's little to dislike about Karl Spain. He's fat, he's Irish, so it's pretty much mandatory that he has to be genial, or the stereotype police would be on to him.

But there's little 'wow' factor, either. It's more about having a relaxed, witty chat than nailing sharp gag, and he's too unfocussed in the material to build up an irresistible momentum.

That's not to say he's not entertaining company, a man able to spin a good yarn with the best of them. But it's a simple pleasure, so set your expectations accordingly.

He starts especially slowly. In fact, he starts from the stalls, if that's not too grand a term for a row of chairs in a student union games room. He seems to personally know several members of the audience, and says his hellos to them ­ making the rest of us seem excluded, and defeating the object of such banter in the first place.

Even before he starts delivering material, he is deconstructing it, fretting that he'll get distracted by so many digressions he'll overrun. Getting sidetracked before he's even begun is not a good sign.

But this preamble is possibly to warm him up, more than us, and once he gets properly under way, all is well.

The show is a series of anecdotes, most of which seek to portray him as some kind of lumbering dopey eejit ­ even if he is sometimes surround by people even more dumb than himself.

He says the wrong thing when receiving his first blow job, he has an uncomfortable, stilted encounter with the teenagers who stole his PlayStation, and has to deal with idiotic American tourists while working in Shannon airport.

For all his fears about digression, he can make up pretty decent gags on the spur of the moment ­ but then he apologies and laughs far too much at his own joke, dissipating much of the effect.

But I guess it's only fair to expect a show based on a shambolic life would itself be ever so slightly shambolic itself. Overall, though, this isn't a bad way to spend an hour.

Steve Bennett


Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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