Review – Stuart Goldsmith, Compared to What, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 5th May 2017

Compared to whatWe’ve seen Stuart Goldsmith a few times now, twice as part of a Screaming Blue Murder line-up, once doing his hour-long show entitled, appropriately, An Hour; and even as one of Rob Deering’s guests in an Edinburgh edition of Beat This. Seeing him on that show made me realise that, nice guy though he may be, he has a competitive streak in him that you wouldn’t want to challenge. (Unless you were even more competitive, of course.) He does actually seem to grow nicer and nicer as the years mellow him; much of his excellent current material centres on finally becoming a dad at the age of 39 (that’s his age, not his son’s) and his genuine love of his new status radiates from every punchline. By the time he retires, he’s probably going to have become a national treasure.

He gets a great rapport going with the audience from the very start but, be not afraid, he’s not the kind of comic who ropes in “victims” throughout the whole of his routine. It’s relatively safe to sit near the front and not be picked on – well maybe just a little bit. Of course, if you pick on yourself… like the lady who heckled his first sentence with an observation about his online biography, then, yes, as they very nearly say in Chicago, she had it coming. Mr Goldsmith’s natural authority lets you know simply – but firmly – that he’s in charge, and all the audience has to do is laugh.

Stuart GoldsmithIt’s carefully scripted, but he’s not a slave to his material; inventively setting up a few ideas as he progresses, to which he can return from a different angle towards the end. He even highlights one of these at the beginning; he tells you he’s going to save the life of a tiny kitten just at the part of the show where he worries he might be perceived unfavourably. You laugh; you then forget about it; and then about 90% of the way through the show he just makes a slightly dark suggestion, pauses, and on comes the kitten. It’s a delightful way of emphasising both the slightly dark material and the fact that he wants to come across as A Nice Guy, so puncturing the dark material at the same time.

Other very funny highlights from his material involve the fun you can have with an Airbnb booking (naughty Alfredo!) and the comparison between living somewhere hectic and rat-racey – like the centre of London where life is to be lived– and somewhere peaceful and relaxing, like the goddam middle of nowhere, where life is meant to be snoozed through. Mr Goldsmith has now been tricked into moving to the back of beyond by his partner, provocatively becoming pregnant so that he had to live where she wanted. The sacrifices us men have to make, honestly. Having been bored to tears in the country before succumbing to the metropolitan madness of Northampton, I feel his pain.

Stuart GAs with last time, his material lasts approximately an hour, so, after an interval, we come back and Mr G gives us some work-in-progress ideas to see if they raise a chuckle. He took this opportunity last year to give us lots of new baby material, much of which, at the time, I thought, missed the mark a bit; but now we can see that he’s turned it into the great show that we’d seen earlier on. Just goes to prove that you can never really tell how new material’s going to develop. I must say, his wip ideas are absolutely cracking and we had easily as much fun in the second half as in the first. I loved the insider information segment, which includes how a fireman tackles a blaze; and a hilarious sequence when he compares the hands-on attitude of American cops to their British counterparts – having worked in enforcement in my younger days, I agree with this wholeheartedly! There are also the surprise benefits of suggesting you might not be 100% heterosexual, and some fascinating questions with a lady in the front row who was a full time Youtuber – you’ve never felt an audience instantly grow so jealous of someone they’d never met!

Stuart Goldsmith’s tour continues for the rest of the month before enjoying a week at the Soho Theatre London. Effortless, excellent humour; and he saves a kitten, what more could you want?

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