COMEDY REVIEW: Gavin Webster @ The Stand, Newcastle (21.10.17) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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A bruising, knockabout brick pile of a comedian, Gavin Webster is the gobby half-cut charmer in the working men’s club, the mad but rarely-bad lad in the pool hall, the broon-fumed essence of the Geordie working man comic.

You’d be wrong though to picture him through the grimy VHS-guazed lens of yesteryear, a veloured fag-fingered seventies loon chucking out endless streams of feckless bigotry, for Gavin expertly repackages those close-to-the-bone bounders for the modern age; one strained finger in a pie and pint, the other firmly on the hot pulse of social justice.

Landing back in town with his Edinburgh Fringe set It’s About Time We Had More Women In There, Gavin makes it clear that while he assuredly hates 90% of all people, he genuinely doesn’t care where you hail from, what you believe or whatever flavour you take your sexuality; he just wants you to pay your taxes, not murder anyone and just leave him alone. The Geordie Club Dad in excelsis.

Alongside some sparkling surrealist touches – the hidden talents of Hitler’s nastier brother Kenny, a deft reimagining of a snake as a long airborne drainpipe and the crushing realisation that his own impression of himself doesn’t quite cut the mustard – the show sees Gavin in a reflective mood, looking back on growing up Geordie, biding his time through a ‘racist and shit’ seventies, and becoming ever more liberal throughout the eighties.

With the Blaydon-born lad back on home turf with a (literal) box of jokes and a keen awareness that he has a completely perfect kind of Geordie accent that renders everything he says obscenely sexist, it was the ten pints-in creeping existential angst of the embattled Tynesider looking for meaning in a millennial age that sat at the heart of a blustery, whip-fast hour-long set, the show closing with the house PA calling up the winds of Helvellyn for a left-field bit of theatre of the mind and a killer callback to land it.

An odd bit of programming though saw the show in an early slot of palpable strangeness, picked up on straight away by the comic as that uncomfortable place somewhere between the end of the match and before you have your tea and go out. With the show leaning – but not dependent – on the kind of machine-gun repetition humour that plays like gangbusters for a slightly soused late evening crowd, the timing of the gig knocked a bit of the edge off and saw Gavin doing some solid real-time smoothing to land himself on the next bit.

Hanging the whole thing on a deeply-detailed unpacking of the four specific types of people he hates the most, boundless enthusiasm and an endless seam of warm Geordie charm more than carried the night however, so with a sitcom in the can, gigs up the wazoo and a Christmas show at Playhouse Whitley Bay on Friday 15th December on the cards, don’t miss your chance to sidle up to the big lad by the bar.

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