Sean Lock: Lockipedia review

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Sean Lock is one of stand-up’s great lateral thinkers; able to take a straightforward comedy observation, then take that quantum leap of imagination needed to make it distinctively funny.

It means his work straddles the surreal and the everyday – ensuring the audience always recognise where he’s coming from, despite the strong whiff of the ridiculous. Likewise, he outwardly appears sensible: a bespectacled, besuited and well-groomed 46-year-old father of three who could easily pass for a regional human resources manager. But that sober image is soon dispelled by the material. He appears to be the Everyman, but really he’s an idiot.

He self-deprecatingly describes some of his routines as the sort of thing to provoke moderate interest; an idle ‘phfff, well it’s a funny old world…’ reaction to bar-room blether that’s ‘not funny – but not boring either’. But although this show – which runs to a slightly over-long two and a half hours including interval – does have its milder moments, there are more than enough delightfully sharp turns of phrase, wittily disgruntled complaints and brief moments of madness to tickle the funnybone.

As the Lockipedia title suggests, there’s no strong theme here, just a collection of unconnected thoughts and observations. One moment he’ll be talking about Jordan’s terrifyingly vivid skin tone; the next pouring scorn on those who claim ‘wheat intolerance’ to equate a dietary preference to a debilitating disability.

To add to the randomness, he occasionally asks for suggestions of topics from the audience – using the inspired idea of seating-plan battleships to select which punter will steer the one-sided conversation. Lock is flummoxed by some of this – but like any form of improv, the fun comes with seeing how he copes with the struggle, making a joke of his ill-preparedness. He hit a magnificent high tonight in Southend, when his desperation leads him to concoct a spontaneous yet elaborate ‘song’ about the humble potato.

Such gimmicks are lively diversions to add variety and ‘looseness’ to the gig. Lock’s strongest when a quirkily tangential idea has struck him, prompting inspired gags about anything from salad cream to Skype, Seventies furniture to golf on the radio. But these sit alongside more accessible – and dare we say it, more obvious – routines about inappropriate female role models, The Sun’s twin obsessions with paedophiles and sexy teenage girls, or friends trying his glasses on. There is something for all, even if that means everybody has to sit out a few segments not aimed at them.

But there’s a strong sense of impish frivolity running throughout, and you’re never far from him acting the fool. Sometimes this has physical manifestation – such as when he’s imitating Madonna’s dancing with all the grace of a prop-forward – or sometimes it’s in retrospect, as he entertainingly describes some incident in which he proved himself to be the chump.

Meanwhile, his largely sedate delivery belies some sharp timing and adroit command of the language. He even swears elegantly, using every expletive to maximum comic effect.

So while, like the real Wikipedia, there are a few flaws in the show, the scale of the achievement is impressive, and there is a surfeit of hidden delights. See Lockipedia once, and you’re likely to become a dedicated Lockipedophile…

Review date: 5 Mar 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Southend Palace Theatre

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