The runaway box office success of Bristol-born comedian Lee Evans harks back to the funny faces and madcap demeanour of Norman Wisdom or Michael Crawford’s Frank Spencer character from Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em.
Evans is in town to play the country’s biggest indoor venue for two consecutive nights. Few modern comics command such demand.
Evans thanks the crowd profusely for their support, plus all the venue staff, revealing that this was the very first large arena he played in a few years ago before his tours turned into the the sort of schedules you’d normally associate with The Rolling Stones.
Now, Evans is a well-established member of comedy’s golden circle. One tour grossed a cool £12.9 million. In 2008, he sold more DVDs than anyone or anything else over Christmas.
The suited and booted simian looking comedian ambles on-stage, soaks up the crowd’s adoration and applause, proceeds to remark on how huge the venue is, and then makes a gag about farts.
Within minutes, Lee is sweating like a racehorse. Evans attributes his copious perspiration to extreme nerves, once saying he’d get “as nervous as a nun waiting for her pregnancy test results.”
Unfortunately, the sound is a little low in the centre of the auditorium. One struggles slightly to hear him, especially after the deafening intro music. The gremlins are soon banished, but seeing as the production of stand-up comedy should be a complete breeze compared to the variables involved in music, it really shouldn’t be an issue in the first place.
Evans’ visual humour is his main strength, but when he delivers a rapid succession of funny noises and sound effects, he can grate. His humour can be a little smutty and puerile, but never dirty or offensive.
He sure is a dab hand at flogging his products. In addition to the usual array of t-shirts and tour programmes, there are alarm clocks, key rings and wallets available for sale. You can download a game to help Lee get to the stage on time. During the interval, an advert plays on the big screens promoting personalised DVD covers for Christmas.
At one stage, Evans makes a gag about paying for water. He appears somewhat surprised by how deeply this resonates with the audience.
It wouldn’t go amiss if Evans engaged with modern life a little more, otherwise he’ll be pulling faces on Comedy Central for all eternity.