Sarah Millican and Tom Allen (support)

Tonight I was at the Royal Concert Hall to see Sarah Millican. Originally, I was to have gone with my wife, Siobhan, but owing to illness she didn’t feel up to it. There was a spare ticket going free, but as she had only made the final decision a hour before we had to leave it was hard work finding someone to give it to. Most of my friends were either gigging, having their first night off in ages or it was too short notice for them. Just when I was thinking it would be nice to treat someone selling the Big Issue to something different, I remembered that my mum was a Sarah Millican fan and so she ended up accompanying me. The seats, were on Tier 2 and mine was U2, but thankfully not close to The Edge. I wouldn’t say the seat was high up, but both Allen and Millican looked like they were on the set of The Borrowers.

Tom Allen was supporting and his style, which was smooth and intellectual made for a contrast that worked well with Millican. He began by referencing his sexual orientation and getting some nice laughs for his talk about recruitment. A comedian who has what some may consider to be a defining characteristic of some sort: sexual orientation, disability, a questionable background, ethnicity, or whatever, can sometimes concentrate on this to the detriment of their set as a whole. I was a tiny bit concerned that Allen would be a one topic comedian, but thankfully he was far from it. He swiftly moved on to talking about his mum using her phone to take a photo, which was really well described and easily pictured. Following this, he arranged for the applause to begin in one corner of the room and then ripple out to the corner nearest to him. This involved him conversing with a teacher who was sat as far away from him as possible. Allen had good ears, and instead of a medley of pardons and what did she says, he developed a lovely bit of repartee that not only showed him to be very sharp, but was also able to generate laughs out of very little. When this teacher delayed with one answer, he did inform her that it was her own time she was wasting, which is a bit of a hack line, but one that he would have been silly not to have used under the circumstances. Allen was only on for a very short while and this was a real shame, as I was enjoying his set. Support acts can be a mixed bag, but every so often they will throw up something in the way of a gem, and Tom Allen is one such gem.

Millican came out to a lot of love. When I saw Alan Carr he had a similar effect on his audience and that was more of an evening with his fans than a gig and he didn’t really have to work hard, or even do anything particularly funny to get laughs. Millican didn’t fall into this trap. This was still very much a comedy show, with a structured set and some very good laughs. The first half consisted of her talking about living in the countryside and how she is getting on with the animals. This lead itself to her asking the audience about their encounters with animals in the wild. This perhaps went on a touch too long, as by the 5th person, I was struggling to stay engaged. Millican got some nice lines out of what people had to say, but this was very much a second fiddle to her actual prepared material. The second half was the stronger of the two halves, where she mined body image and the differences between men and women for material. These topics are fairly common fare for female comedians and although it would have been nice to hear something that hasn’t already been covered, her take on them was still a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed the quiz showing the difference between men and women, but this was more so because I’ve seen her husband 4-5 times and can appreciate his answers more. Millican has a reputation for being far cruder live than on the telly, but I’d not say that she was crude. There was a lot of F’s but nothing that was out of context or didn’t add to the impact of a line, something she went part way to referencing in a different context, when saying that a line had just the right amount of fucks in it. Her persona is that of a very sweet lass who can say anything she likes and get away with it, which works beautifully. The delivery was smooth and made the material seem even more relatable. I enjoyed this show, as despite it being in a huge theatre, it still felt like a comedy gig, something that is often missing in big shows.

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