Lee Evans has built his empire on familiarity. An arsenal filled with daft hand signals, gurns and accents has seen him sell out arenas across the country. However, watching his Monsters tour at the Metro Radio Arena last night, he seems to be riding on a wave of his previous prime.
Opening with the gag of farting in the hall and two roofers smelling it years later has been rolled out twice before when I’ve seen him live. Possibly a sign of nerves, it had me wary he would revert to old material throughout.
Personally, I can’t help but think he’s lost the rawness and spontaneity which saw him rise to the top, by refusing to allow his comedy to mature with him. Nevertheless, with his showmanship and years of experience ever present, there is no denying the man’s talent. I was surrounded by people in tears with laughter, doubled over, expressing how “so true” his material is.
Maybe it’s just me, but the toilet humour sound effects and face contortions have become dated. His rib tickling routines may well be hilarious when you’re younger and starting to watch more comedians, however last night only showed patches of development in his material. His Bohemian Rhapsody sketch still concludes the night. Then again, why change a winning, successful formula?
The subjectivity of comedy will see him continue to have thousands under his spell, while many still find him irritable and past his peak. The Marmite effect. Last night could have simply shown a change in my taste.
However, Evan’s wasn’t just a carbon copy of his previous arena tours. He was at his best utilising his quick wit and silly one liners, breaking the sometimes monotonous and predictable lines on stage. Material on his 30 year marriage and ageing appearance of his tackle had everyone in stitches. So too his piece on how long it would take sadomasochists to set up a sex dungeon with the worry of work in the morning.
Relaxed, charming and humble, Evans’ second half flowed much better than his jittery, scatter gun approach of the first. At times he showed flashes of brilliance, but for me it couldn’t cover up the overall staleness of the night.