[I interrupt my catching up on television programmes to talk about something that isn’t a television programme, but at least it’s about someone who has been in television programmes.]
Chris Addison has a slightly bigger profile than Lucy Porter, who I saw last month – he plays Ollie in The Thick Of It (and a similar character in the film In The Loop), he starred in and co-wrote a sitcom, Lab Rats (which I thought was rather rubbish, to be honest), he has had columns in The Guardian and The Evening Standard, and he hosts a radio show called 7 Day Sunday on Radio 5 Live. All this goes some way to explain why the same theatre was completely full, rather than half-full for Lucy Porter.
Addison’s approach to comedy has a lecture style, as can be heard in the radio adaptations of two of his Edinburgh shows (several of which were Perrier nominated), The Ape That Got Lucky and Civilisation. He is intelligent, cares about big ideas and is passionate about the state of the world and politics. This was his first live tour in five years, so it didn’t have a particular theme, it was just aiming to provide an entertaining show that reflected him – he didn’t have a warm-up act, and he did a two-hour show, including a short Q&A at the end. The first half was about his physicality or, rather, lack of it, as he talked about his spindly frame and the torturous experiences of sport at school and his lack of coordination now, even to the extent that he was admitting to his rubbishness at sex (he is married with a child, and deliberately didn’t do any baby material).
Having humiliated and belittled himself in the first half, Addison allowed himself to humiliate and belittle others in the second half, from a point of superiority; targets included women who wear Ugg boots, people who watch ITV news, politicians, people who report the news (particularly the use of incidental music behind news pieces; there was mocking of Channel 4 news because some of the team was in the audience, including presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy), stupid people in general and the Conservatives – the show was the night before the General Election, and Addison made a point of telling people to vote (although he knew that he was preaching to the converted because his audience is middle-class people who are aware of the issues, much like he is himself; as he joked, the audience was so middle class, he was embarrassed he hadn’t brought a bottle of wine with him), even if they might disagree with his politics.
Addison was blisteringly funny – sharp, hilarious, well thought out, clear and with a point, running around the stage in his student garb of a colourful shirt, jeans and pumps, even though he is 38 years old (he’s only a couple of years younger than me, so perhaps we have a lot in common, with a lot of the same cultural touchstones in life). He was confident on stage, although he did have some odd tics, like scratching under his right arm and behind his ear (not sure if that was the mike equipment), tending to stand slightly sideways to the audience on occasion, not really looking towards the left side of the auditorium, and a disconcerting tic of looking away from the audience when he’d delivered a particularly good line. But that’s just me being all critique-y – he gave a terrific performance of really funny, intelligent material that I would heartily recommend people see. If you can’t get to see him live, you can follow him on Twitter, where some of his tweets ended up in the show.