The mourners have gathered in the Garrick Theatre and the great and the good – well Frank Lavender and his lovely wife Rose – are here to make tribute to their dear, departed friend. Yes, Myra Dubois is dead, Dead Funny that is. Wirth her own dedicated radio station playing a series of pun-tastic hits to the waiting audience, no one is more delighted to see Myra manifest than Yorkshire’s Rose herself.
But first, Frank has a 40-minute warm-up set, having made the arduous journey from the Yorkshire working men’s clubs via the tube and, repeatedly it seems, the doctor. Promising ‘a laugh a minute’ and ‘cavalcade of chuckles’, Frank works the crowd with some well-executed audience interaction focused on the front row while describing some comedy mechanisms. As the room repeat catchphrases and respond to Franks unique take on Let Me Entertain You, his official laugh tally keeper records 61 official giggles, a promise kept, and he’s earned every single one.
After a rather extended interval taking up over 30-minutes of this 2.5-hour show which allows the audience to deflate a little, Myra finally appears, but how? Back from the dead? A faked passing? Is she speaking to us direct from heaven? No, it’s a ‘plot device’ which sees Myra stage her own funeral at the end of which she will sacrifice herself to the theatre Gods in what she describes as ‘the threadbare plot of the evening.’
Before this fateful act takes place, Dubois has plenty to say with topics ranging from the benefits of therapy to projectile mindfulness and her own alluring star quality, even insisting she assigned audience seats based on how much we need her help. Sit too close at your peril because Myra soon singles out a couple of fans for a hilarious ad-libbed pasting when one reminds her about a recent gig at a Chiswick pub – apparently not the impression she wishes to convey to a West End audience.
And the interactive fun continues with sing and sway-alongs, memory games and, as the performance is filmed, jokes directed to the future audience watching the show on demand. You don’t know the West End until you’ve heard a room full of people sing the Elaine Paige role from I Know Him So Well with Myra playing Barbara Dickson. But woe betide anyone who cheers too enthusiastically for glamorous assistant, Rose as one poor man discovered to his cost with a lengthy but very funny diatribe.
The characters of both Frank and Myra use repetition within their comedy which means some segments overstay their welcome including a funeral service reading which goes wrong so many times the joke wears thin long before the end, and, depending on your comic tastes, here and there the humour can cause a collective groan or a sharp intake of breath as eyebrows hit your hairline, but no one goes to a Myra Dubois show for gentle comedy. Inventing the genre of ‘snuff cabaret’ Myra Dubois is dead funny, just don’t sit near the front!
Tours until 30 September 2021