Dave Spikey: Best Medicine tour

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

If laughter is the best medicine, the first half of Dave Spikey’s show should probably be classed as a sedative.

Though he was getting chuckles from some quarters, his familiar observations about tired subjects almost sent me dozing. Perhaps the fact that the very title of this show is based on a cliché should have set off alarm bells, but his comments on daytime TV shows, ‘claim for blame’ ads and the security questions they ask you at airports could form a checklist of the hackneyed.

There are gags about Viagra (‘can you get it over the counter?’), about putting together Ikea furniture, and a long routine about dobbers - obese ‘working’ class people ironically clad in Sports Direct gear, sunburning on their drink-fuelled holidays to Benidorm – that gets dangerously close to ‘my wife’s so fat…’ gags. The audience certainly went with it, chuckling at lines as simple as him introducing this dobber family as ‘Mum, Dad and their daughter Chantelle Demi’, but it’s all no-brainer stuff.

He’s a jolly fellow, and sells his material with his well-known Chorley charm, but Spikey’s reliance on reporting back on things he’s seen or overheard adds to the predictability – even if you suspect the sign ‘Guard Dogs Operate At This Hospital’ doesn’t really exist with that wording.

For the newspaper cuttings he’s compiled, he’s brought the evidence, getting laughs from such stories as the one about a llama running amok, headlined ‘Llama Drama Ding Dong’ – but the sub-editor who wrote that pun surely did all the work. This section shows more flair when Spikey finds accidentally bad or ambiguous writing than simply repeating funny headlines.

Stories from his time as an NHS haematologist raise the mood – as well as acting as a very good advertisement for going private, as the terrifying-if-true yarns about dozy nurses would make the perfect basis for Spikey’s next sitcom. But his passion for the British institution where he worked for so long is apparent.

Tales from his own youth also entertain – even if he can’t help wallowing in some easy sweet-shop nostalgia about Blackjacks. Spikey is a natural raconteur, upbeat but subtly mocking, and I’d rather hear these first-hand anecdotes over his opinion on the Cillit Bang adverts any day.

Having said that his closing routine is a stormer, picking out ridiculous lyrics, mainly from female middle-of-the-road balladeers of the Eighties. There are some howlers here, even if Spikey disingenuously ignores the deliberate irony of likes such as Pink Floyd’s ‘We don’t need no education’.

At two interval-free hours, this final night of Spikey’s 110-date tour felt like something of a slog, because for all of his cheeky charisma a good chunk of the material felt crushingly familiar. Though as the likes of Michael McIntyre and Spikey’s one-time colleague Peter Kay have found to the benefit of their bank balances, the familiar certainly sells.

Review date: 30 Nov 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Bloomsbury Theatre

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