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Chris Ramsey: Aggrophobic

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Chris Ramsey suffered a terrible infestation during this weekend performance. His intimate gig was veritably awash with twats: the drunken South African who rocked up five minutes late and assumed the rest of the audience had just been waiting for his self-important braying; the weak-bladdered punter who couldn’t last more than 15 minutes into the show without needing a piss, causing great disruption as he left; and most shamefully the man who not only forgot to switch his phone off, an understandable error, but also chose to answer it and conduct a conversation from his seat, just as the show was reaching its climax.

Although Ramsey’s an experienced club compere who took most of this in his stride, this last interruption was the final straw, and he snapped at the unforgivably rude punter who he angrily – and rightly – ejected.

Had his irritation not been so palpable, this tetchy exchange could almost have been mistaken for a set-up – and perhaps he missed a theatrical trick here – as Ramsey’s entire debut show revolves how he hates confrontation, especially with drunks. So you can imagine how rattled he must have been to risk a showdown.

Idiots aside, this is a solid show from an engaging stand-up, proving he can hold his own for an hour for the first time with tales of intimidating encounters on the street or in the pub. But entertaining though these are, as a show it’s lacking that special substance or spirit needed to elevate it above the level of an extended stand-up set.

The situations that this upbeat South Shields lad describes are familiar, perhaps over-familiar, ones: the Jeremy Kyle show, people talking in cinemas, comebacks you think of too late, embarrassing childhood photos, the use of the word ‘gay’ to mean anything bad… It’s comedy verité; an accurate portrayal of real-life incidents, effectively told with charm and charisma, even if there’s not much substance at their heart.

Ramsey imposes an episodic structure on the stand-up, categorising each story on a scale of aggro from ‘social heckling’ through passive-aggressive behaviour and ultimately physical danger, while adroitly employing call-back techniques as another way of helping sustain momentum for the hour.

Indeed, he’s such a fluid, effortless presence that achieves that aim with ease, despite the best efforts of the ignorantly disruptive. If only he could back that up with more significant material, he would be, in his own argot, champion.

Review date: 22 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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