Live Review: Frank Skinner, Leicester Square Theatre

News: Frank Skinner To Write Prayer Book

Frank Skinner's first proper new show in four years does not have any whizz bang gimmicks. It does not have any themes or high concept. What it does have is a plethora of spot-on punchlines. Some of them scripted, some of them improvised. All of them conclusive evidence that the Black Country comic is still one of the best joke-crafters in the business.

I've always admired Skinner's uncanny ability to riff off the audience. He has a brain that seems hard-wired to find the funny. I remember a gig about a decade ago where early on he mentioned that he liked to watch the daytime TV programme Heir Hunters. A few minutes later he came across some female German tourists in the audience and asked them if they were looking for boyfriends. Quick as a flash he added: "Are you Herr Hunters?"

He had similar fun with the crowd on this occasion, bantering back and forth with a retired couple who seemed to have separate homes. Elsewhere he discussed the historical veracity of Colonel Sanders with another fan. The style was relaxed and easy going. No humiliation. No stress. 

The scripted material sauntered around from subject to subject, each story building to a big laugh and occasionally an applause break (there was a nice teasing anecdote about discussing getting laughs/applause with David Baddiel). There was a routine about Bruce Forsyth being not quite as generous a performer as one might have hoped. Another was about Skinner's partner mocking him for being ostentatious and choosing Millionaire's Shortbread in a cafe. Elsewhere there was a neat observation about Star Wars' Yoda and a mischievous theory that maybe the Srtictly Come Dancing "curse" is not really a curse at all.

If there was a loose theme maybe it was age. Skinner is 62 as he reminded us and while he didn't succumb to any hack prostate test gags (maybe his prostate test was a long time ago) he did note how he was changing. He was no longer chained to his libido like a madman and was quite content that his eyes were not drawn to women in short skirts in the street. He also flashed his free bus pass – though I wonder how much he uses it. I happened to notice him walking to the Leicester Square Theatre earlier in the week, which maybe explains how he remains so lean.

It was all delivered at a leisurely pace from a comedian who appeared very much at ease onstage. Skinner knows what he is doing and you are in safe hands here. It might not all blow your socks off, but if you don't find yourself laughing helplessly at some point then call lost property, you've probably mislaid your sense of humour. 

Until July 27. Ticket link here for London dates and also his national tour this autumn,


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