Rob Brydon Live

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Riding high on the runaway success of Gavin & Stacey, this is Rob Brydon’s first stand-up tour as himself. Indeed, the show relies almost entirely on Brydon’s own personality – which comes as something as a surprise from someone who’s built a career on being other people, whether it be Keith Barret or the voice of the Toilet Duck.

Material-wise, there’s little to lodge your hippocampus, but Brydon’s a natural wit with a disarmingly charming manner. He’s the hot towel of comedy: warm, cosy and refreshing.

Several times it feels as if this seven-time Richard and Judy guest is back in chat-show mode, tossing out references to playing golf with Ronnie Corbett or wry anecdotes of fatherhood. Edgy, it’s never going to be.

As if to prove it, he’s quick to slip into cabaret mode, dropping into impressions of Bruce Forysth, Terry Wogan or Ken Bruce at the drop of an octave. But it’s always accompanied by a winningly self-deprecating nod to the cheesiness. ‘Johnny Mathis in 2009?’ he mocks one of his own impersonations. ‘Who would have thought it!’

The show bounces along in such amiable mode for most of its duration: Brydon rarely elicits guttural belly-laughs, but plenty of affectionate chortles.

He has a nice physical presence too: covering every inch of the stage – and sometimes beyond as he clambers into the auditorium – or miming scenarios such as the gestures drivers make to let others into traffic, or the peculiarly stilted dancing of Bruce Springstein.

In the end, it’s the winsome playfulness that wins out, especially he affectionately mocks audience members, then apologises tongue-in-cheek for any ‘inadvertent’ slight. This club-style banter requires a whip-sharp mind, but it’s disguised by the affable, low-key packaging. As a party trick towards the end of the show, he improvises a song around some of the punters he’s targeted: it’s a demanding task, but he executes it flawlessly, making it look effortless.

Even before Uncle Bryn, Brydon had carefully nurtured this image of the avuncular, well-meaning Welshman; his nationality proving such an essential part of his being. He calls for cheers from his compatriots, references the Six Nations rugby clash going on elsewhere and talks about doom-mongering Welsh mothers and, inevitably, Tom Jones. Hell, even the music played as we filed out of he theatre came from Duffy.

But his Welshness isn’t so much a source of material, but a state of mind, a contradictory mix of genial matiness, jovial ribbing, mild pessimism and the lyrical lilt that smooths every dry turn of phrase.

Music – that other stereotypical Welsh staple – plays a part in the show, too; not least because he sticks to that old music-hall adage of ‘leave ’em on a song’. As well as the improvised funk tune, we get a Welsh version of George Michael’s Faith and – predictably enough – a rendition of Islands In The Stream.

It’s a bit cheesy, but it sends you out inexplicably happy – and that applies to Brydon’s warm-hearted shtick as much as it does to the Kenny Rogers cover. There’s lovely, see.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Brighton, Feb 2009

Review date: 1 Jan 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

What do you think?

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.