Review: Jack Dee, Hammersmith Apollo

jack dee

If anyone can get the filming of a stand-up DVD right at the Hammersmith Apollo it must be Jack Dee's people. His management company is behind Live at the Apollo so know all the right angles. This gig, which was part of Dee's first tour in six years, was being filmed for the autumn DVD market and should be the perfect present for your grumpy dad. Dee is a master of the curmudgeonly sulk and also knows all the angles when it comes to making the audience laugh. No-nonsense full-on classic stand-up which goes straight for the funny bone. A version of this review first appeared in the Evening Standard here. Pre-order the DVD here.


After various extra-curricular digressions, from canoeing down the Zambezi to making the sitcom Lead Balloon,  Jack Dee is back on tour doing what he does best. From the moment he walked onstage to the moment he closed with a song this was a masterclass in mithering. 

Dee has honed the ability to find the comedic misery in every subject to the point of perfection. You name it, he blamed it. His thoughts on religion set him wondering if the teenage Jesus was popular at parties because of his ability to turn water into wine while his thoughts on the monarchy prompted him to speculate on the state of Prince Philip’s bladder during last year’s Diamond Jubilee pageant.

These were highlights in a set which also inevitably catalogued personal irritations, from his neighbour’s wind chimes to the problems of finding capable electricians to his daughter’s ability to make his money vanish along with his wallet. Dee’s modern way of coping with all online communication is an App which responds with a sulky “so what”.

It is tempting to say “so what” about his gripe-fest as this is the sort of material that after two decades should come easily to Dee. His Meldrewish moans might not be groundbreaking, yet he delivered them with so much sardonic style it was impossible not to smile. Nobody can say “thanks” with as much withering sarcasm.

One might say Dee played it safe but he still scored plenty of bullseyes. His only break from tradition was a song at the end. Not a glitzy showbiz variety number with a little dance though. It’s glum giggles from nose to tail with or without music.

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