Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hilariously tall tales - review of Greg Davies

Greg Davies at The Corn Exchange, Newbury on Friday, June 17

I DON’T like to use the word “hilarious” in my reviews of comedy for the Newbury Weekly News - partly because not all the acts I see hit the “hilarious” button enough times to deserve it, but also because if I describe a comedian’s performance as hilarious, where do I go from there? What if I see someone even more consistently, side-achingly, tear-inducingly funny the following week? What word do I use to describe them?

But I have decided on this occasion to take the plunge. So, here goes... Greg Davies is hilarious. His show, Firing Cheeseballs At A Dog, elicited laughs, guffaws, chuckles and titters from beginning to end. His support act, Ed Gamble, was pretty good as well, which isn’t always a given. Davies apologised if some of his material was familiar to the audience who may have seen his recent appearance on TV channel Dave, “but I have extended the show since then”.

In fact, he had brought it in a shortened embryonic form to Newbury in April 2010 as part of The Big Laugh comedy event put on by The Corn Exchange’s youth committee (he’s also previously performed at Newbury Comedy Festival as part of the sketch trio We Are Klang). No matter; it was excellent then, but an Edinburgh Fringe run and an inordinate number of tour dates later, Davies has lovingly honed the show into a well-crafted run through some of the most bizarre “true’ moments from his life, introducing some fabulously freakish characters along the way, including his magnificently eccentric parents.

Whizzing through some more ignominious periods of his life - his university years were summed up as “Drunk. Pathetic. Single” - in favour of the long, dark teatime of the soul which was his teaching career, Davies was wonderfully self-deprecating (describing his toddler self as resembling Mr Tickle) without ever slipping into maudlin introspection. He teetered in his tales and their telling just on the right side of “man of the people” rather than wobbling over into “worryingly strange”. He happily jumped into the audience to find a “young person”, and bravely let it slip that he was off to The Dolphin pub after the show to see a mate’s band. I bet they suddenly had an influx of new customers in there around 11pm on Friday.

The next comedian I see has a lot to live up to [it might be Mark Thomas during Newbury Comedy Festival in July, so to be fair, he’s likely to do a pretty good job ]. For now, I will pack the word “hilarious” away, having reserved it for Davies alone. I hope he uses it wisely and liberally.

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, June 23, 2011

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