Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
Opening act Carl Hutchinson manages the rare feat of actually getting the audience in the right mood for the main act. This is ironic as part of his routine involves spoofing audience reaction to support acts. Hutchinson is basically an observational comedian whose material is raised above the norm by being delivered as a rant and by occasionally admitting that he was at fault. The warm response Hutchinson gets from the audience at The Lowry suggests that many will return when he re-visits the venue later this year with his solo show.
Chris Ramsey builds his act around autobiographical anecdotes. The main one, from which the title of the show is derived, involves how an unfortunate remark on ‘Soccer UK’ resulted in him being banned from the show but later was able to save him from arrest. Ramsey is a superb raconteur able to stretch a story to the point of incredulity before producing photographic evidence that it is true.
It does, however, take ages for Ramsey to reach the formal part of his act. He opens with the tried and tested approach of interacting with, and mildly insulting, the audience. The Manc accent is compared to the sound a sleeping cat makes when fingered. Whether Hutchinson was unusually successful in warming up the audience or they are just particularly receptive the technique catches on like wildfire. Within a short time Ramsey has the audience in hysterics and a mood of anarchy has broken out. It is as though some people are making up their own jokes.
The routine produces some spectacular results. Ramsey recalls being reduced to tears of laughter on stage when he became embroiled in a verbal tussle with a posh lady who owned a peacock. You can’t blame Ramsey for making the most of his success at The Lowry but his urge to reply to every comment interrupts the flow of material and he lets the banter go on so long that the show over-runs and the heckles finally become tiresome. After a series of dull heckles from the balcony Ramsey acknowledges that the show is starting to resemble the worse ever version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
Using the performance at The Lowry as a predictor for other shows on the tour may be misleading, as the circumstances are unusual. But it is clear that, given the opportunity, Ramsey is an inspired improviser who can build a strong relationship with an audience very quickly and that he is worth checking out just for the quality of his formal material. Besides, lightning might strike twice.
Reviewed on 14th February 2014