Marcel Lucont's Whine List | Gig review by Steve Bennett at Soho Theatre, London

Marcel Lucont's Whine List

Note: This review is from 2017

Gig review by Steve Bennett at Soho Theatre, London

Marcel Lucont is probably not what you would call a ‘people person’: aloof, supercilious, disdainful. Stereotypically French, in other words.

So it might not appear obvious to build a show around his interaction with hoi polloi he holds in so much contempt. But on the other hand, what better way to demonstrate his superiority than to expose everyone else’s lowest moments?

Settling down for Whine List, we are given questionnaires seeking our worst experiences professionally, romantically and while travelling. While most comedians share their own anecdotes, Lucont has crowdsourced this research, with some of the more interesting answers flashed up on the screen for him to discuss.

Of course, there’s no guarantee what will be thrown up. When someone intriguingly gave just a date in answer to: ‘What was your worst day at work?’ it turned out to be a hospital staffer giving the day after the 2005 London bombings. Not immediately comedy gold, but it’s testament to Alexis Dubus – the man behind Lucont’s turtleneck – that he successfully negotiated that awkwardness. The laugh of relief that he did so was rousing.

Some of the stories picked are inherently funny or at least outlandish – the guy who pulled out an axe on a date! – but Dubus can find the wit in more workaday ones, not least because he has the weapon of hauteur to deploy on anyone whose anecdote doesn’t come up to scratch.

His condescension is delivered quietly and slowly, with a skilled use of pauses. In the more scripted preamble, heavy on the Brexit references, these seem interminable, but it soon becomes clear that the silences are a lure to draw you into his sophisticated world.

His all-time greatest answers culled from this tour are revealed in a ‘vintage whines’ rundown between segments, while the show ends with a typical example of bleak existential French filmmaking – about the grim realities of British seaside holidays. It’s a nod to giving the show structure, but when you can ad lib as elegantly as M. Lucont, the exchanges he has with the audience are more than enough for a show as fruity as the wine he sups.

Marcel Lucont's Whine List is at the Soho Theatre, London, tonight and tomorrow then continues on tour. Dates

Review date: 25 Apr 2017
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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