Live Review: Old Comedian of the Year, Leicester Square Theatre, WC2: Page 2 of 2

I don’t know what they put in the half-time oranges or maybe it was the luck of the draw, but the second half of this final was much stronger. The next act, Javier Costales, was better than most of the acts in the first half and did not even warrant a placing. A lot of his set was about his struggle with the English language. He had a very expressive riff about how cockney was just a selection of sounds that somehow formed themselves into words. His surreal impression of an East Ender had more than a hint of Spencer Jones about it. I’d like to see more of him. Let’s hope he can stay in the UK after Brexit.

After a weak start where one could see the gag coming a kilometre off Rob Thomas also had some strong post-Brexit banter. What looked like a throwaway line about French phrases that will be outlawed when we leave the EU turned into the sharpest, smartest, self-contained routine of the night. With his unruly hair and neat rug-pulling observations Thomas had something of the early Jasper Carrott about him. Conventional but with a twist and throughly deserving of second place and a £500 cheque.

On the surface UK-based fortysomething Australian Nick Elleray doesn’t seem to have a unique selling point. He is just another middle-aged man getting to grips with the fact that his best days might be behind him. But he had a particularly good take on this notion, comparing his stage in life to being at that point in the working day where there is plenty of time left but maybe not enough to start something new. Elleray has performed a full-length show before so maybe it was no surprise that he had enough material to make a persuasive short showing, but that was certainly not something to hold against him. He was definitely an act that left the audience wanting more and was a hit with the judges too, making him an easy winner on the night, pocketing £1000.

It was hard to get a handle on Gary Davis. On the one hand he was very blokey and politically incorrect, then he’d suddenly pluck a more interesting comedic idea out of thin air. then just as you thought there was potential there would be a mother-in-law gag or a smutty joke about sending stool samples through the post. He did have a way with words, but in a high-rating section he was not destined to be placed.

North-easterner Chris McGlade came to the final with a bit of a buzz behind him, delivering a powerful take on Brexit which was not as politically correct as the metropolitan elite might want. He is angry, passionate and articulate but on this occasion maybe a mix of rage, adrenaline and nerves got the better of him and he fluffed a polemical poem halfway through his set, which then seemed to preoccupy him. On another night he might have finished higher than third, winning £250, but there was plenty here to confirm that McGlade is someone to look out for. And if the stand-up doesn’t pan out he could probably be James Nesbitt’s stunt double.

Last up was Geoff Alderman, who started with a lookalike gag (a bit hack but they are irresistible. I’ve made two of them in this review) comparing himself to a character from The Simpsons. If only he had been as funny as a character from The Simpsons he would have been onto a winner. His brief set was peppered with nice lines but again, this was one of the more inconsistent acts on the night. Some quality control might have helped, but also closing the night and following someone with a lot of energy was a tough call. It was a good competition though and the standard was generally high. Nobody died. In both the comedic sense or - given the title of the competition – the literal sense. 


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