Iain Stirling: Relevant– Hackney Empire, London

Reviewer: Dulcie Godfrey

‘Don’t you hate when people…’ Relevant in name, relevant in nature, comedian Iain Stirling goes for familiarly anecdotal and simply funny gags in his new tour, drawing laughs from the Hackney Empire but failing to hold the energy.

Some know him as an award-winning writer, some know him as one of a CBBC double act with Hacker T Dog, but everyone knows him as the Iconic Voice of ITV’s Love Island. And maybe it is the familiar Scottish accent that makes it so. Iain Stirling is comfortable with his audience, and they are with him. A tad of excellent crowd work from opening act Steve Bugeja means Stirling’s return to the stage is met by a waiting and willing audience.

Stirling is aware of his Love Island clout, stating with pride that ‘there are islanders in the building’, and talking about how he and the rest of us are lowly compared to the people who are ‘professionally good looking’. Stirling then touches on the locational divides of London, again using the Scottish charm to joke about his initial confusion around the distinctions between north and south, compared to his identity as a North Londoner now.

The show gets going, and so do the laughs. Stirling is himself always, covering everything from fatherhood to relationships, to being the only comedian without a podcast with easy punch lines, a touch of physical comedy and his endearing silly temperament.

Stirling shines most when making it personal; how his daughter has shown him how the bar is incredibly low for dads versus mums. ‘People are impressed if we’re both dressed and out of the house’ he says. Spying Stirling’s wife Laura Whitmore in the stalls makes his jokes about being happy at having a wife who is more successful than him pack more of a punch. Stirling promises he feels no jealousy, having a successful wife just means ‘I drive a better car’.

But the more general observations and unspecific jokes are only worth a limited number of laughs, and mostly from a certain millennial audience. Basically entertaining, this millennial-focused humour can have a generational divide and quickly becomes tiresome. Trading in reflections on pretentious people working on laptops in cafes, actually drinkable McDonald’s coffee, annoying people on trains, it’s humorously delivered, relevant even, but nothing ground-breaking and, after a while, a bit boring.

But while some of the material may be very familiar, Iain Stirling promises relevant laughs and delivers them.

Reviewed on 13 April and continues to tour the UK and Ireland until May 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

Simply funny

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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