Norman Lovett – Original Review | Review by Steve Bennett

Norman Lovett – Original Review

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Most people will know Norman Lovett as the dreary, universe-weary computer Holly from Red Dwarf. But he’s also been performing stand-up for half a lifetime, with an act packed full of slick gags and high-energy pizzazz.

Only kidding. It is, of course, the same slow musings of a man aimlessly filling the yawning hours of his mundane life.

There are very few jokes you could identify, just distracted descriptions of simple pleasures. Finding a new place to rest his sunglasses is the high point of his timewasting week, as is buying plastic bags to clear up after his dog. ‘It’s all nonsense,’ he offers by way of deadpan commentary on his own set.

The comedy is drier than the Sahara, as mild-mannered and low-key as you can get while still maintaining a pulse. If you want a quick succession of sharp punchlines, you’ll be disappointed, but if you’re looking for the quiet whimsy of someone old enough to know better indulging in his trivial distractions, Lovett’s your man.

His quiet charm draws you into this world; the benign, half-vacant grin on his face shows he’s enjoying this daftness, and warmly inviting you to share it. He knows exactly how ridiculous he looks, vainly trying to be cool or fiddling away with the props he pulls from his shoulder bag with childish fascination, and that’s more than half the fun.

He knows a thing or two about delivery - his masterful use of the pause and his bemused avuncular persona is a textbook example of commanding an audience's attention with underplayed authority, rather than belligerent shouting.

But it’s a delicate comedy that could be crushed by the wrong circumstances, or leave an audience cold if they’re not in the mood. That said, this modest act was an unlikely hit at the late Malcolm Hardee’s notoriously unforgiving Tunnel Club, so it’s not just for quiet, reverential enjoyment.

Lovett is a true original – and as such you are probably just as likely to be baffled by his frustratingly aimless frippery as you are to find it quirky and delightful. It’s quite possible to experience both reactions in the course of the same set, too, as you hold out for the nuggets amongst the nothingness. But it’s the nothingness that makes Lovett what he is, and he’s too long in the business to change now.

Review date: 4 May 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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