Rhod Gilbert And The Award-Winning Mince Pie

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

Rhod Gilbert’s always been a good stand up, often a great one. But this year he’s made an evolutionary leap that could propel him into comedy’s super-league.

He makes great play about how he has abandoned for good his fantasies of Llanbobl in favour of no-nonsense observational stand-up about the real world. Only it turns out Gilbert doesn’t interact well with the real word, and becomes increasingly outraged at every petty irritation.

The result is a relentless white-knuckle ride through the raging torrents of his frustration. Here is a man who takes everything at face value, thinking way too much about it, then letting his rage burn with the incandescence of a million candles at the stupidity involved.

The scale of his ever-escalating indignation is clearly ridiculous compared to the supposed crime committed, but as with Basil Fawlty you can empathise entirely as to how the never-ending irritants of the world could have driven him to such extremes. But Gilbert makes Basil Fawlty look as serene as the Dalai Llama, so emphatic does he get when making his valid points he just couldn’t let lie..

All this pent-up anger was released during a trip to the Knutsford service station near junction 18 of the M6. You can’t imagine many stand-ups getting 40 minutes of material about the toilets, canteen and tat-selling shop of a dreary Cheshire stop-off, but Gilbert elevates the ‘everything’s crap’ school of comedy into an artform, creating huge expectations from the most trivial things, then expertly describing the crush of disappointment when reality doesn’t live up to his self-generated hype.

The story is bookended with a couple of largely unrelated routines, one about the Beaufort Theatre in Ebbw Vale, which isn’t the glitzy rival to Las Vegas you might expect, and another about how his aging body increasingly lets him down, especially during sex. The latter might be a common topic among comics turning 40, but Gilbert’s got an hilarious new angle on it, delivered with impeccable style.

In fact, the laughs never let up for the entire hour he’s on stage, belting out material at full emotional pelt in a virtuoso performance. Every moment is exhilarating, passionate, and sparklingly funny.

Don’t be surprised if the mince pie isn’t the only thing in this show to attract the attention of award judges.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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