Reviewer: Paul Maguire
Dave Spikey performed his first stand-up show in 1987 while working as a biomedical scientist at Bolton General Hospital. He tells the three-quarter full Quay Theatre that tonight’s show is the story of his career. A tale of how he got from that point 30 years ago, to where he is now via winning The Best Newcomer Award at the British Comedy Awards, performing in Phoenix Nights, and appearing in multiple panel shows and stand-up tours.
Spikey commences by telling a few old jokes that seem to have come straight out of the working men’s clubs of the 1980s. He intersperses several of these well-worn gags throughout the evening’s performance. Coming from that background it seems, like many such club comics, that Spikey has no compunction in using such frequently repeated material if it still garners a laugh.
He then reads amusing newspaper headlines, a trope often used more successfully by other comedians most notably Russell Brand. Rather than describing how he got from scientist to successful comedian as promised, Spikey fills the entire first act with cliched observational material about what it was like to grow up in a working-class northern town.
Most lines begin with “Do you remember when…” he then indulges in recollections of sugar butties, corporation pop, white dog poo, his Grandmothers malapropisms, stories about bonfire night, the fair coming to town, going to the pictures on Saturday mornings and TV shows from the 60s and 70s.
Spikey informs the audience that part of the show is still ‘a work in progress’ and he alludes to large boards that are propped up against the monitor speakers. These are clearly aid memoirs. This is rather distracting as he regularly glances down at them for cues to his next joke. The material and style are so derivative that it could well be mistaken for a bad pastiche of this type of comedy. He certainly lacks the comedic heft of Peter Kay or Michael Mcintyre who are masters of this brand of humour .
The second half of the show is a completely different story. He returns to reading newspaper headlines but these are far funnier than the ones used at the start of the show. Spikey then changes tack in every respect; he now tells stories which are well written and performed. His routine about being woken one evening by a “duck cabaret night” is as funny as it is different from his previous material.
He describes the arc of his comedy career so far, from his days working full time at the hospital to anecdotes about working on Phoenix Nights. He recalls these with genuine affection and each one really hits the funny bone. Now growing in confidence he retells a humorous tale about getting his hair cut in a market on a family holiday to Spain. His use of movement and mimicry in telling the story really enhance its comedic impact.
The mixture of well-told anecdotes with original sharp and humorus jokes are in stark contrast to the stale tired material of the earlier part of the show. There he tries to make stories funny, in the second half he tells stories in a funny way, which produce several belly laughs from the audience.
This improvement only highlights the disappointment of the first act. If he ditches the derivative material and concentrates on his strengths, he would have a show to be proud of.
Reviewed on 2 March 2017 | Image: Contributed