Luke Toulson at the 2012 Leicester Comedy Festival

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

If you’re searching for a stand-up with a strong, distinctive worldview – something every great comedian can boast – you might struggle with Luke Toulson. He’s an affable man in his mid-thirties, with kids and a relationship, who occasionally notices things that strike him as a little strange,. And he’s sharing those things in a show without any great theme.

Yet the result is a gimmick-free hour of rock-solid comedy, frequently amusing without apparent effort – providing proof that a big idea is no substitute for good jokes.

An early title for this show, now abandoned, was Laid-Back Grouch – a phrase taken from an review which he thought perfectly captured his attitude. But his elusive comic voice might best summed up in the payoff to one routine, when he takes a game of hide-and-seek a little too seriously and says in mock-confusion: ‘Everyone looked at me like I was the bad guy…’ He has his own idea how things should be, which he’ll doggedly stick to, despite the consequences.

Material about his youngsters is the strongest, as his grown-up, wordly-wise sensibilities rubs up against the youngsters’ charming naivety. Complex relationships means his daughter, who lives with her mother, effectively has three dads – which sounds like the set-up for a particularly naff American Eighties sitcom – but in reality just adds an extra twist to some of his gags.

His wider observational routines are generally strong, too, even when they start from familiar places. His celebrity doppelganger material is distinctive not just for the obscurity of his lookalike, but what he extrapolates from it; while the segment about clearing your browsing history after watching internet porn neatly goes that extra yard beyond the obvious.

Some material is a bit flabby -– talk of the bullet sent to John Terry’s adversary Anton Ferdinand is particularly overplayed – but it’s not a major concern, when there’s always a strong slice of stand-up around the corner.

Toulson, an ex-teacher, also has a great ease with the audience, which brings an appealing fluidity to the set. He has a godsend in this performance, thanks to a trio of mischievously sharp young boys in the front row, and although he frets he keeps focussing on them, the interactions provide a useful running joke.

It all makes for an unprepossessing, yet reliably funny hour about.. well, not much really.

Review date: 13 Feb 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Leicester Kayal

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