Corn Exchange in Punderland

Machine-pun comedian, Gary Delaney held a full-to-bursting Corn Exchange in Devizes captive, and in continous fits of laughter last night.….

If my first introduction to a full stand-up comedy routine was Eddie Murphy’s Delirious video, long before I should’ve been allowed to watch it according to BBFC classifications, it’s at least evidence I’m no stranger to outrageous content. But just like the second video I watched, Billy Connolly at The Albert Hall  they bought about the storyteller style of earlier comedians like Richard Pryor to Thatcher’s children. Since, perpetual narrative linking the gags has become something of a standard model.

Star of Live at the Apollo and various other TV appearances, Gary Delaney doesn’t play the archetypal trend, he’s known for firing off one-liners in random and rapid succession. In this delivery, he’s comparable more to the great Ken Dodd, or Tommy Cooper, though, interestingly, last night he cited psychedelia storyteller, Bill Hicks as an early influence; ergo he’s altered his style dramatically, to suit middle-age, he suggested.

Slight grimace at this, Gary is akin to a walking Viz Comic, away from the confines of TV, he explores outrageous subject matter, as many other comedians do, but his titillating style is carried off as Chris Donald; cheeky and audacious schoolboy humour mannerisms.

If it’s a mid-life crisis, it sure is a funny one. Though, at times it came across cliche, while his observations can be assute, with some clever wordplay, at times it felt unbalanced against the need for mawkish, generally rude for rude’s sake, quips, simply to appear as outrageous as possible. Swearing IS big and clever, and I’m no prude, but to go where the slimey Jimmy Carr does, is not an angle I’d favour.

Twisted, yeah, I’m Chubby Checker, pal, but the sodomite and underage themes came thick, fast and verging on obsessive, and they wasn’t as well thought out as the more general play on words gags. Though it seemed welcomed by the crowd, if it felt gig-tarting for Gary to compliment us on our preference for twisted humour; I bet he says that to all his audiences!

Nit-picking I know, I didn’t laugh as much as I anticipated via his videos and Twitter feed, which is literally non-stop, but I did laugh, lots, after a tiring day and just the one pint. Maybe greater liquidity intoxication would’ve assisted my funny bone; yeah, probably just me playing hard to get. I may’ve been close to ‘the Bin,’ doesn’t make me a comedy slapper.

Support act came from Brummie deaf comedian, Steve Day, who brilliantly exploited his disability for humorous effect. There was cruelty in his un-PC style, verging on punk, of eighties Footlights alternatives. It was one flatliner to insult Boris Johnson in a Tory top-heavy town hall-full willing to fork out a purple one on a Thursday night, but I welcomed and applauded it!

Note to Steve; conservatives have minimal understanding or ability to laugh at themselves, or their great leader no matter how scum he blatantly is.

All in all it was great to see Devizes’ Corn Exchange host such a class act, Delaney has his heart on his sleeve, smirking and snorting at his own jokes is usually a no-no, but it works for Gary, who, unlike aforementioned Carr, doesn’t come across pretentious. He’s that lovable, cheeky chappie with a genuine love for his incredible talent, and this came across superbly to create a memorable evening.

What was a surprise was his handling of the audience, as I imagined he’d come on, fire his one-liners and bugger off. Rather he explained his reasoning, gave us some diary-observations, bantered about neighbouring towns, and he always follows his one-liner with a footnote, a kind of second laugh. They’re usually a furtherance of the gag, if he’s confident the crowd will like it, or hilariously excusable if they don’t; the latter was rarely needed. Gary Delaney is one naturally funny guy and you’d not be left disappointed if you see him live. Unless you’re a vegan with no sense of humour.

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