Reviewer: Nicole Evans
Both undeniably veterans of the comedy scene, Jasper Carrott and Alistair McGowan are no strangers to the art of trying to make people laugh. Deciding to join forces and share a tour bill, they each bring their no-frills routine to Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre for a four-night run.
Kicking off proceedings for the first quarter, McGowan announces his entrance and jumps straight into what he does best, impressions. At this point – and unfortunately, a theme that continues through to his second set – if you don’t follow sports or cookery shows, you are pretty much destined to spend the next 30 minutes a little lost. Those that do understand the likenesses of his various voices appear to enjoy the fun that ensues, with those that don’t left hoping Carrott will bring something we can appreciate a little more. That being said, despite declaring himself very unpolitical, McGowan’s occasional satirical references to the subject are by far his strongest material and are very well received by all.
Carrott, looking a little like he has just left a mental asylum in his baggy white shirt, finishes off the first half a little more slowly than we’d have hoped with little of any memorable note to recall. The laughter does eventually build though and he shows glimpses of the local star we all know and love, throwing in some old age gags and some regional jibes for good measure.
Returning after the interval to follow McGowan’s similarly sports-themed second set, Carrott seems to have rekindled his comedy fire and the laughter finally starts to flow. After initially seeming a lot tamer than we remember him, he lets his guard down a little for the last stint and the ‘close to the bone’ jokes that you feel guilty for giggling at start to emerge. Touching on blind man’s bungee jumping, complete with guide dog, the current potential tribulations of having married a school girl in the 70s and the ultimate ‘guaranteed to raise a laugh’ subject, sex – or lack of it, we feel nicely warmed up just in time for it all to end.
Finishing off with his old favourite of reading out insurance claim forms and leading straight into an encore of humorous takes on popular songs to the accompaniment of his acoustic guitar, he succeeds in reminding us of why we have loved him for all these years and saves the evening from being a bigger flop.
While they have evidently both retained their abilities to attract the crowds, some of Carrott and McGowan’s appeal definitely gets left behind with our, and their, youth. It’s certainly not an unenjoyable evening, but they don’t quite pack the punch that they used to with McGowan’s offerings needing to be a little more varied and Carrott needing to dig deeper for the confidence to risk upsetting a few people and just do what he does best.
Slightly disappointing but still a nostalgic evening that beats staying in with the dog.
Runs Until 16 March 2017 | Image: Contributed