Reviewer: Laura Maley
Local comic Phil Buckley completes a short tour with a homecoming gig at The Lowry, a some-time workplace in his non-comedy day job.
Support comes in the form of Lou Conran who instantly beckons the audience into her confidence, oversharing as if you were best friends on a night out – and that night out would definitely require an 18-rating. Conran has a very appealing presence and gets the audience very well warmed up with some hilarious anecdotes about bad boyfriends, her unsuccessful acting career and a genius idea to perk up dull stretches working as an office temp. She could do much more than her 20-minute slot and still leave plenty in the audience wanting more.
And so to Buckley, who firstly reveals that – apparently unbeknown to him – his mother is in the audience, adding that he recognised her laugh from his position backstage. There’s a sizeable group of family and friends together which means most of his gags about family/marriage/sex take on certain added layers of understanding or cringe. It also means there’s a section of very vocal support throughout.
The show Big Idea is set around a really clever premise which is full of possibilities. Buckley relates a story of working behind the scenes on a TED talk here at The Lowry. Among the day’s many inspirational talks, he met 15-year old Jack Andraka whose dipstick-test invention has made a significant contribution to pancreatic cancer detection rates. Feeling insignificant in the face of such achievement, Buckley realises he himself has never had a Big Idea, and decides he has to come up with a way to turn his life around and make a mark on the world.
This show isn’t it.
Unfortunately, for a start which offers many creative exploratory routes to go down, Buckley disappointingly settles in to a standard observational set. It’s quite silly, not particularly original, but with some stand-outs being the more unusual elements like a Russian stag do, and some sphincter-clenchingly embarrassing early brushes with fame. A couple of stories could benefit from some editing and tightening up, but other sections simply lead to forgettable punchlines. Buckley’s a likeable comic but the material here is too often unremarkable, and likely to linger in the mind long after this particular show, which offered a lot of original promise at the outset.
Reviewed on 7 June 2015 | Image: Contributed