[All photographs courtesy of joshwiddicombe.com]
Best known for his amusing grumpiness on Mock The Week and Stand Up For The Week, one of the hottest properties in stand-up, Josh Widdicombe, came to Leeds’ iconic City Varieties with his latest touring show. I’m always a little hesitant when watching a ‘TV comedian’ live for fear they will just recycle material. I’m happy to report that was not the case here. The show seemed 100% new.
There is no doubt that Josh Widdicombe is at his best when in full flow ranting mode. The belly laughs came from his anger and exasperation at life’s annoyances, from his childhood (undoubtedly the highlight of the show), to cancelled flights. However, for me, the big laughs came a little too far apart with a lot of ‘mildly amusing’ in between. A series of seemingly never ending audience ‘banter’ conversations felt forced and slowed the pace to a crawl whilst allowing the energy of both performer and audience to dissipate. I found my attention wandering. There came a point where I simply didn’t care what someone’s name / job / hobby was, or where they came from, I just wanted Josh to get on with it.
To his credit he always pulled me back in with his next acutely observed monologue and he delivered the material with energy and excellent timing. The last quarter of the show is by far the best but up until that point it had felt a bit like a series of random thoughts rather than a coherent piece with a consistent thread. Solid but unspectacular.