Wednesday, 27 July 2011

190: Gig Report: Phill Jupitus

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Phill Jupitus
Cornerstone Arts Centre, Didcot
26 July 2011

A low-key warm-up gig. It was advertised ahead of time, but tickets only went on sale ten days before the show. The cynic in me suspects this was to create more demand, but the 350 capacity venue sold out, so it worked either way.

Like Sunday, this was a warm-up show for the imminent Edinburgh Festival, and knowing how performers need to time their acts precisely, I wasn't expecting a long gig. Phill's standup set is an hour, but he also gave us half an hour of poetry at the start as his own support act.

I'd be lying if I said I enjoyed poetry generally, and some of Jupitus' poems are better than others. But the dry humour of many of them works well, and I did geek out over 'I've eaten things you wouldn't believe'. Keeping in mind that first half was unadvertised and unexpected, I enjoyed it. The concept seemed to throw a lot of the audience off for 10 minutes or so, but once everyone had acclimatised it rolled along nicely. So after 30 minutes of verse and chit-chat, there was time for an interval, a beer, and a visit to the little boys' room.

Phill's second half (or more properly, a second two thirds) was a lot more animated, even though his style strays towards deadpan. There were one or two awkward silences where I suspect bigger laughs were expected, and a few more where he was transitioning between routines. But that said, there were a lot of full-on laughs consistently through the set. I was also pleasantly surprised to find a very sturdy impersonation of Eddie Izzard tucked away in there, all the better for not being exaggerated or over-done.

Other high points included the tweets of a Welsh pornstar, the crisis of middle-age, and a massive tirade against Coldplay. I found the last segment particularly amusing because I could almost hear around half of a fairly mainstream audience thinking '...but I like Coldplay. Now I don't know what to think.', while the other half guffawed heartily*1.

Which brings me to the only disconcerting part of the show; for the whole hour, Phill Jupitus seems to veer wildy between fairly pedestrian observational material, and much sharper routines which you wouldn't see on BBC1 on a Saturday evening. I'm fine with both, but it's an odd mix for a show. The latter got bigger laughs, but from less of the crowd. It wasn't offensive as such, but it was closer to the kind of comedy I usually consume (Richard Herring, Michael Legge). For example, the teenage boy in the row in front of us was mortified when Phill pointed out that everyone in the auditorium knows exactly what he's doing in his room :p

At his best when he's being open and self-deprecating, Phill Jupitus has a solid show here. I could probably have lived without the opening poetry segment*2, but it worked well in context. I'd like to see him again in a similar sized venue next time he's doing the rounds.

*1 Very heartily. I've got nothing against Coldplay. I don't particularly like them, and sure they're a bit bland, but there's no crime in that. Most people are a bit bland. The fact that Coldplay are successful reflects more on the people buying their records than on the band. Nevertheless, Phill's Coldplay routine is a good one.
*2 It was still infinitely better than a support-act who makes you want to sneak out to the bar without being seen. But you can't sneak out when you're sitting in the front row. That's happened before. At this venue, no less.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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