I didn't expect to have to write this. I'm not normally a person for in-depth reviews, but even though the traffic on this blog is pretty much non-existent, I feel this should be out there somewhere.
Last night, I went to a comedy gig. I do this quite a lot - I love stand-up. So far, the general rule is that when you go to a comedy club, the entertainment is quite bad. When you go to a comedian's show, the entertainment is quite good. Well, last night, the rule did not hold up. Adam and I went to see one Sean Lock. I normally like Sean Lock. I like him on QI, I like him on Have I Got News For You, I liked his chat show and I liked his sitcom. I thought this would be guarantee enough that I'd have a good time. Wikipedia informed me that he'd been booed off stage at Wembley, but all recent reviews assured me that he was brilliant. So, feeling fairly confident, off we went.
Sean Lock comes onstage looking like the Proclaimers' uncle. He has an utterly shocking widow's-peak combover. Well, it makes me giggle. He then gets off to a terrible start by mumbling, bumbling and rambling. He talks about his voice, and how it makes everything he says sound sarcastic. That's a lie; it makes everything he says sound nasty. It also sounds nothing like his TV voice. He attempts to personalise the show a little bit by mentioning the taxi strike taking place. He asks us why. We tell him. The cab drivers are striking in protest, because the council have painted all the cabs navy blue. He basically says "oh" and moves on. Oh, come on, man! Striking over blue taxis! That's a comic gift! At this point, I really wish I was watching Ross Noble. He'd have had a field day with blue taxis. Sigh. But back to Sean. He rants on about swans for a bit (Adam believes that Sean Lock must have had a previous bad experience with a swan), but it's neither of the funny kinds of rant - the fiery, angry, biting rant or the charming, bewildered rant. It's a man standing on stage grousing. It's a bitter old uncle. His timing is completely off, too - he's not an improv comedian, and the whole show is scripted, but you wouldn't believe it. There are awkward pauses, mumbles and qualifiers like, "So that's the joke." Bristol was not impressed, and Bristol wasn't laughing much. So, as you would, he panics a little bit. For the rest of the first half, every time he gets a laugh he pushes the joke far beyond its funny conclusion, until the audience is staring at him in stony silence. Then he says, "I've put the shit joke at the end again, haven't I?" This seriously happens five times. He then offends me a little by claiming that breakdown rescue vehicles shouldn't prioritise single women. Why not? Because he has to wait for three hours. Loser. This comes just after a right-on bit about racism, so I'm not impressed, particularly when he follows it up with a jab against transvestites. Men who eat salad are transvestites! HA HA HA. More grumpiness about the bits in orange juice. Your lovely reviewer is bored, and wonders whether or not to skip out during the interval. She decides not to. Bad idea.
Sean Lock re-emerges, and my hopes are raised a little when he makes a David Cameron joke (which is very funny but, naturally, he pushes it a few sentences beyond funny). He goes on about the environment, most of which isn't joke-based. It's "yeah, some people really care, I care, but not a lot" for twenty minutes. He smushes the odd joke in the middle (he'd been to America and came to the conclusion that compared to their level of consumption, him recycling was like bringing a dustpan and brush to an earthquake. I laughed), but he seems to lose his place repeatedly. He talks about showing his daughter Finding Nemo without realising that Nemo's mother and siblings get eaten by a barracuda one minute in, and why isn't there a warning? Which, YES! I saw that at the cinema, I was so upset I missed all the jokes! Everyone thinks I'm nuts. He wanders off into Scarface, and I marvel that a show which rips on David Cameron and Finding Nemo isn't even the slightest bit engaging. Sigh.
At this point, I'm still thinking, "Perhaps he's just not cut out for stand-up" and prepare to come away unimpressed, but still with an affection for his TV work. Then he says that a near-death experience can teach you who you really are. He describes sitting on a plane with engine failure, next to an old woman who is very upset. He says he yelled, "FUCK YOU OLD LADY! BLAH BLAH BLAH GOING TO DIE ISN'T IT FUNNY THAT I'M AN ARSEHOLE! HA HA HA!" (Naturally paraphrased because I'm not writing all that shit out).
Huh? No, Sean, I'm sorry. Yelling "Fuck you, old lady" qualifies you as neither witty nor charming. I don't know if you noticed me in the third row, totally silent with a contemptuous look on my face. If not, it would do you well to pay attention to your audience in future.
He moves on. He talks about hair. He stands on stage for twenty minutes flipping his hand about on top of his head. Seriously, twenty minutes. Pretending his hand is some hair. This is a centre parting. This is me on a pier. Be careful if you play tennis. You can literally hear five individual people laughing. The rest of the room stares at him. Just because he acknowledges after fifteen minutes that it's pretty shitty of him to be standing on stage flipping his hand around doesn't make it better or funnier. Your lovely reviewer and her companion are exchanging eye-rolls every two minutes now.
He talks about relationships. He goes to some lengths to prove that he's embarrassed to have any feelings for his partner. This is so 1970s it's unbelievable. He tells a boring, hackneyed story about coming home to find his ex in bed with an old friend of his "And I couldn't remember his name!" YAWN. So, he decides to go on the offensive and tell his ex that he never insulated the loft and is actually the Riddler. He takes off his clothes to reveal a fluorescent long-sleeved Lycra jumpsuit with a question mark on it. No, really, he does. We then have to endure half an hour of him standing in his jumpsuit, looking awkward, giggling at himself and making knob gags. Again, the fact that he acknowledges that knob gags are rubbish doesn't make it any funnier. At this point, he definitely notices me and says, "Some people think it's funny, some people are concerned." Concerned? For myself, yes. He says "I'm glad you like it" eight hundred times, then leaves. Phew.
Oh crap, no, he's not finished. He comes back. He talks about the fluorescent jumpsuit some more. Then he says, "I'm probably one of the straightest men in the entire world." Oh, fucking hell. He's going to try and prove his sexuality. His partner calls him "such a bloke". He does a charming routine which can be summed up as: "Gay men can't do DIY". Then he makes some blow job jokes. Yes, blow job jokes. What is he, twelve? Fucking blow job jokes. Let's mention ladyboys! That's funny. They look like ladies, don't they, but now listen for five minutes while I make very loud orgasm noises. I'm not kidding. We paid thirty-five quid to watch a man have a fake orgasm. Fucking loser. He then says something so disgusting about post-op transsexuals that I absolutely refuse to repeat it under any circumstances. And it was his closing joke! Sean Lock is a serious homophobe.
I've seen a lot of bad gigs, but I've never seen one this bad when I've paid to see a particular comedian. This wasn't the most sexist show I've ever seen (stand up, Simon Clayton), but it was without a doubt the most homophobic. And despite his right-on racism bit, he still made a joke about lynchings. Nice one, Sean. But what bothered me most about this show is that I now harbour a serious personal dislike for him. He's not just a bad comedian. He came across to me as unpleasant, creepy, misanthropic and self-indulgent. At the interval I complained to Adam about the rescue breakdown bit, and he assured me it was just the lead-in to a joke. After the show, it seemed to both of us like a genuine gripe. He is genuinely cross that because women get attacked, he has to wait for rescue breakdown. My only solace was that every time he said something particularly sexist, one guy at the back laughed and clapped all on his own, and Sean had to backtrack a little. You don't want the arsehole in the corner being the only one on your side. You could, I suppose, say that that's his onstage character. If he wants to stick with this "character", he'd better get a hell of a lot funnier. Very, very fast. The show in general seemed very 1970s, and every single one of his references was at least a couple of years out of date (Robbie Williams? Gail Porter's hair? Oh, for fuck's sake).
Before the very end bit, I would have given the show an overall rating of two out of ten. One point for Cameron, one point for Nemo. However, the end bit was the worst ten minutes I have ever sat through in my whole life, and I will hold that transsexual joke against him forever. So, Sean Lock: Worst. Show. Ever. That should be the name of his next tour.