It wasn’t until I saw that Miles Jupp would be doing a stand-up tour this year that I actually appreciated that he was a comedian per se. I’d only known him from being in the wonderful Rev (still hoping for a fourth series) and from occasional appearances on Have I Got News For You. However, I am ashamed to discover that Mr Jupp is inter alia a seasoned stand-upper, having won both So You Think You’re Funny and a Perrier Award; this is, I believe, his fourth (possibly fifth?) solo show.
It’s clear that he has attracted a certain following, judging from the attendees in the Royal Theatre last night. Although all ages were represented, there were considerably more older people there than you would normally expect for a comedy gig. He confesses that research has been undertaken to discover the profile of the average Miles Jupp fan – they’re into shopping, driving, and watching TV; and their favourite song is Don McLean’s American Pie. Verily, they were the types of people surrounding us in the stalls last night. Mr Jupp has a very middle-class, respectable, conservative (with a small c) persona which stems from both his bearing and his Standard English accent; you expect him to deliver comic material with a clipped and refined character, with the wit of an Oscar Wilde and the edgy danger of a slice of Battenberg.
Part of his opening routine recollects a gig in Spalding where he overhears a man leaving the concert; his wife asks him what he thought of the show and he replies to the effect: what a nice man, but what unexpected content. This gives rise to some nice speculation that instead he could be vile and predictable. But I do know precisely where this man in Spalding is coming from (apart from, of course, Lincolnshire.) Mr Jupp comes across as inordinately nice (apart from when he’s riled by the vicissitudes of 21st century living) – and his material really is at odds with his personality. This is his great strength; he can surprise or even shock his audience with apparent ease just by combining his niceness with his language – his observations about meeting someone interested in both golf and Formula One being a case in point. But a side effect of this is that all those rather genteel elderly ladies who are laughing their twinsets off at classic lines like “I’ve died and gone to Waitrose”, reach for the smelling salts when he describes someone as a c*nt.
Mr Jupp’s style is largely relaxed and intimate. He walks about a bit to help things keep moving naturally, but he’s not one of these comics who cavort across all areas of the stage like a caged tiger. The show is essentially scripted to the nth degree; he did imply at the beginning that if we wanted to interact with him from the audience with any verbal duelling, he’d be up for it; but, charming elderly clientele like us were far too polite actually to take him up on it – possibly to our own detriment.
His material is always telling and recognisable; from how his children pick up on his observations and repeat them, four-letter words and all, to the horrendous moment when you have to go back to your wife to clarify where she said she’d left something; from the Prince of Wales and his Duchy foodstuffs to the reason why Joan of Arc wasn’t burnt in Wales. The whole show is paced perfectly, with a gradual introduction and gathering of growing threads, followed by a second half crescendo full of top stories and laugh out loud situations.
A rather smart and elegant approach to stand-up; don’t expect a manic couple of hours, more a measured, reflective, yet still gently neurotic experience which will have you laughing in recognition at so many of the things that irk us all. His tour continues throughout October, January and February and I’d definitely recommend it!