fri 06/12/2019

Jack Whitehall, O2 Arena - a mix of posh and puerile | reviews, news & interviews

Jack Whitehall, O2 Arena - a mix of posh and puerile

Jack Whitehall, O2 Arena - a mix of posh and puerile

Smart lines amid the mundane observations

Jack Whitehall has had a privileged life but makes himself the butt of jokes about itOllie Millington

Jack Whitehall is hardly ever off the telly, appearing on gameshows or jollying around with his father, Michael, presenting the BRIT Awards and proving to be a decent actor in dramas such as Decline and Fall. But now he's gone back to live comedy with his new show Stood Up.

Whitehall, as befits his stadium-tour status, goes full Hollywood with his entrance through the audience as a group of spangly-clad dancers gyrate on stage. But the material – littered with wanking and diarrhoea references and an extended fart gag – is often rather less sparkling. 

He delivers mostly mundane observational comedy on some really hack targets, among them vegans and stupid Americans, plus going to the gym and urinal etiquette, and recounts scarcely believable “this really happened” incidents from his life. Comedy can of course be invented, exaggerated or surreal, but its starting point must be authentic, and much of Whitehall’s is most definitely not.

But he also offers tantalising glimpses of an edgier comic that may lie beneath, whether talking about his love life – he says he's an unadventurous lover as he mentions his recent return to bachelorhood  – or telling us about appearing at a private party thrown by Prince Charles at Kensington Palace. Whitehall was born to privilege and moves in a particular social circle, and has made what could be a critical or comedic curse into an unashamed advantage.

There are some whip-smart lines, too; people who continue to drink cow's milk rather than one of the seemingly dozens of woke non-dairy alternatives “are the smokers of 2019”, while for those who think the UK should go ahead with Brexit and thus submit the economy to a full-on rogering, he suggests “thumb in first…”

Whitehall’s posh-boy shtick can be entertaining though, and he describes his faux-naive engagement with the rugged world of Wetherspoon's pubs, chicken suppers at Nando's and excursions to Lidl because he has grown bored with shopping at Waitrose, with its perverse insistence on stacking things logically in each aisle. This is engagingly clever comedy and forms a good running gag over the show's 90 minutes. 

It’s a shame that the quality of Whitehall's material seldom reaches the level of his performance, which is terrific in its energy and commitment. Yet as he always makes himself the butt of the joke, it's hard not to be charmed by him.

  • Jack Whitehall is touring until 10 January 2020
Whitehall’s posh-boy shtick can be entertaining

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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