Review: Chris Ramsey, Bloomsbury Theatre

Chris Ramsey

When I reviewed this show for the Evening Standard I gave Chris Ramsey three stars, which might have suggested that the gig was not a big hit with me. Well, I'm not revising my opinion. I just want to clarify that the gig was hugely enjoyable, it was just one of those occasions where sparks didn't quite fly as much as they had in the past. I first saw the young South Shields stand-up at the Edinburgh Festival in 2011 when he was nominated for a Foster's Comedy Award. He was brilliant then and I'm sure he will have other brilliant nights on his current tour. You can find all the dates and buy tickets here.

Anyway, my snooty review is not going to hold Ramsey back. He recently starred in the BBC2 sitcom Hebburn, based on the life of fellow north-eastern stand-up Jason Cook, which has just been re-commissioned, so TV stardom clearly beckons. Ramsey's current live show is called Feeling Lucky. As I touch on in the piece below, there is little that is lucky about his success. It is all down to his infectious grin, graft and an enviable gift of the gab. You can read the original review here.

Life is all about a throw of the dice, suggests South Shields stand-up Chris Ramsey. So he starts Feeling Lucky by tossing a giant foam dice into the stalls and engaging in warm-up banter with whoever catches it. Sometimes, as fortune would have it, this can undoubtedly deliver comedy gold. Here it resulted in a few bronze medal gags about Greggs the bakers and discounted Spanish holidays.

Not a particularly auspicious opening, but the star of BBC2 sitcom Hebburn went on to prove that relying on honed material rather than chance might be important too, as his fast-paced script was much stronger than his ad libs. The theme, based on the idea that we have all won the human lottery just by being born, may not break new ground, but what Ramsey lacks in originality he makes up for in world-beating likeability.

His busy routines often involve his eccentric family and they return here in a neat rug-pulling yarn about his parents catching him doing something unexpected in his bedroom. Ramsey’s observational quips certainly resonate, particularly his description of the hell of being trapped in a tedious pub conversation, dubbed a “crack cul-de-sac”, while your mates are having a ball. Grumpy toilet attendants, a childhood near-death experience and being thrown off a TV programme for saying a naughty word are further anecdotal highlights.

With his cheeky smirk and long pointy face Ramsey resembles a mix of fellow upbeat wag Russell Howard and Dick Van Dyke. And as this show reached its emotional climax he tied up the loose ends beautifully with a soppy finale worthy of a Dick Van Dyke Disney movie. Nothing to do with luck though, everything to do with hard work.


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