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Micky Flanagan: Spiel - Edinburgh 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Micky Flanagan’s star finally exploded on to the comedy circuit a couple of years ago with a brilliantly observed Edinburgh show about his progression from working-class Herbert to middle-class ponce, and being caught awkwardly between the two. It tapped into a previously unexploited seam of common experience, and brought him well-deserved acclaim.

But this time around the themes are a lot more familiar. It’s the aging comic, reflecting on how he went from being a punk rocker to a man who likes a nice vest. There are stories of how he doesn’t go out any more as he doesn’t want to miss Property Ladder or Antiques Roadshow, of how he has less sex now he has a baby, and how he’s a typical unromantic bloke. So far, so very ordinary observational shtick, with nothing much brought to the party.

Better are this amiably chummy East Londoner’s comments on the meaningless social lubricants that we all unwittingly buy into, such as how to react what to do when caught peeping or the correct etiquette when you cross the path of the same stranger four times in a day. Nice, too, is his deconstruction of how Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight is an ‘unwitting testimony’ of the cracks in the apparently romantic relationship.

He tells everything with a cheerful lack of pretension, and a self-deprecating willingness to admit he’s often embarrassed by the gaps in his knowledge or middle-aged lack of va-va-voom. But at least half of Spiel, he seems like he is coasting.

The catch-all title and non-committal Fringe programme description (‘if.comedy nominee Micky returns for a brand new show’) should probably be taken as an indication this show never had much of a creative drive to in beyond an hour of general stand-up.

But most tellingly, his concluding routine – the moment the whole hour should build towards – is the ketchup-in-a-restaurant gag that was in the original 2007 show. It’s a very funny bit, but in two years he should surely have produced something else to close on.

Review date: 16 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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