14 November 2014
Reviewed by Jane Hopkins M.B.E
A very personal account of a life that is surprisingly not unlike the rest of us.
I saw stand-up comedian Alan Davies, some 17 years ago, yes really. I’m not feeling old at all. It was the first time I’d been to see a live comedian and that night stayed with me for some time, I remember how my friend and I would both shout “Alan” with great gusto, when we would often recollect his version of how (in his mind) his cats would call him when presenting their latest dead (or live) pigeon from the garden. It was truly excellent and now, almost 2 decades on I was excited to be seeing Alan again, and in the same theatre too; the impressive Symphony Hall in Birmingham although I had better seats this time. The girl in me wants to say he has aged incredibly well, in fact he really hasn’t aged at all, and neither has his dress sense.
Walking on stage was like seeing an old friend, he welcomes us by talking about and showing that he knows our city. He gets to know the audience too, well our ages at least and interestingly it’s a real mixed bag of youngsters in their twenty’s up to some in their seventy’s. In the second half he warmly enquired if they were still with us. Cheeky beggar. He is welcoming to latecomers, stopping to speak to them mid-tale then seamlessly picking up where he left off to deliver the punchline with superb professionalism.
The first thing that struck me was the way his comedy had grown up with him, 17 years ago he was all about the hilarity of learning to drive and how his cats were trying to kill him. Now, he has a far wider range of life experiences to pull comedy moments from and although he recalls his earlier school days and growing up, he’s now married with two under 5 year olds to keep alive, previous tours and events to pull stories from, as well as his elderly, eccentric father with Alzheimer’s which in itself I’m sure could fill a book of hilarious tales.
He talks a great deal about his family in a personal way which is at times very touching. There is a brutal honesty about his relationship with his father, one that many people will relate to. Being able to find and then present humour within as sensitive subject as Alzheimer’s is gift that I suspect provides a huge relief to the challenges he has faced. But I applaud him for exploring it in his comedy.
It was fascinating to learn more about his childhood, he really does illustrate a vivid and honest account of events of his life that he’s found the funny side of. His eccentric father as the butt of his humour provided many side stitching moments and if the stories are true, are well deserved.
I loved his recollection of his 3 year old swearing for the first time, and his one year old pretending to choke, and then his advice on deciding which one to save first in an emergency. If you’ve ever felt like a failing parent, you’ll think you’re Supernanny leaving here.
When watching Alan Davies, what you see is what you get, you don’t feel like you’re watching a pre written script, it’s as though you’re in a pub listening to a string of hilarious stories from an old mate. Well that’s how I feel, but then I have known Alan for 17 years after all; we’re buddies, obviously.
Alan Davies is currently touring with Little Victories. For tour dates click here.
For other shows at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham visit www.thsh.co.uk.
Symphony Hall. 32 Broad Street, Birmingham, West Midlands, B1 2EA | 0121 345 0600