A slightly awkward big-haired young man hops on to the stage, accompanied by a shiny TV screen and a mic. He suggests that the audience takes off their clothes. (Coats and jumpers, that is, because it’s warm. Everything’s above board.) He seems like a pleasant guy; he’s pretty funny, too.
Alex Kealy performed at Spank! a couple of days before this show, where at least half tonight’s audience were in attendance. Rather than ignore the fact that the first two rows had all seen the first half hour already, he playfully acknowledges it, giving them a little extra connection to make their money go further. This is indicative of the friendly rapport Kealy has with the audience, comfortably chatting with the crowd but without relying on them for material.
There’s a lot of self-effacing oversharing about Kealy’s life. It’s both hilarious and endearing, if at times a bit too apologetic. But the bulk of the show focusses on current affairs and politics; perhaps a little too much for a show that’s not explicitly about those things. In any case, there’s a lot of Brexit talk and I prepared myself for another set of the same old jokes – so I was pleasantly surprised when the material was fresh, insightful, and original, and well worth laughing to. There’s a really good bit about Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings too, but thankfully, only a few references to Donald Trump – because, as Kealy acknowledges, that’s not a joke.
The show is accompanied by a series of original and pinched video clips. It’s a little like having an ill-advised late-night clickbait YouTube session, watching things that make you a bit angry, while Kealy sits beside you gently muttering witty commentaries. In case you’re in any doubt, this is a good thing.
All in all, this is well-written, somewhat wordy, upmarket, slightly fancy, grit-free stand-up. Kealy crafts the sort of lines people wish they’d thought of themselves. They’re also the sorts of lines you’d see on a tea-towel or mug that you’d pick up, chuckle at, and then set down again. And those mugs and tea-towels would be sold in Waitrose. It’s a great hour of cerebral stand-up comedy – and Alex Kealey is a name to watch out for in the future.