Nick Revell: Revell Yell

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Nick Revell’s show is nothing if not wide-ranging; a rare mix of political polemic, mass-appeal observational comedy, personal anecdotes, and high-falutin name-dropping to demonstrate his intellectual credentials. He is the particle you might expect to see if you slammed Michael McIntyre, John Bishop and Mark Steel together in some comedic supercollider.

The weightier elements undeniably cut into the laughs, but it is not Revell’s intent to elicit a guffaw three times every minute; rather to hold the audience engaged in his trains of thought. He’s a master technician, so that is achieved with little apparent exertion.

Such skills make for an intent audience throughout, even when his stories are more interesting than funny – such as his tale about going to the aid of the drowning man while on holiday in India which ends, well, damply.

More mainstream are sardonically observed routines on such topics as Britain’s binge drinking, barbecues and a Glaswegian’s dilemma of who to hate more: an Englishman, an Edinburgher or a rival football supporter. On such segments, there’s no great insight, but his thoughts are elegantly expressed.

His best routines combine the storytelling, observational and intelligent elements together. Best of which is the anecdote of how his knowledge of medieval French silenced an welcome preacher – very wittily dubbed ‘God’s vuvuzela’ – on the top deck of a London night bus. There’s a touch of Monty Python in the way Revell gratuitously name-checks philosophical thinkers and renaissance artists into everyday routines, but his erudition is there to be mocked.

As well as such well-crafted routines, this circuit veteran (albeit one who took a long hiatus through most of the Nineties) is also keen to engage in more topical issues. There are thoughts here on Libyan situation and Ed Miliband’s address to Saturday’s anti-cuts march and he’s happy to admit the unsteady first steps of jokes written only that afternoon.

His confident writing can sometimes seem more attuned to the page than the stage; rather like an eloquent newspaper comment piece with sardonic turns of phrase and elegant construction rather than a relentless barrage of quips and one-liners. It results in wry chuckles, and while applause breaks constantly threatened to break out in The Stand, they never quite built the critical mass necessary.

He was somewhat reluctant to bring out his always funny routine about the dawn chorus to end the show, feeling he wanted to showcase only his newer material … but it seemed necessary after that India tale petered out, and it did earn him well-deserved warm applause. The show was a mixed bag, but not without its treats.

Review date: 28 Mar 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Glasgow Stand

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