I like Frank Skinner. There is something pleasing in the straight forward quickness of his wit during his many television appearances, and his books littered my teenage shelves. Further, a certain song of his was one of my first learned on the banjolele. With that in mind, I went into his new touring show with no small amount of anticipation.
Sadly, it was not to be. Whether it is age or comfort, the usual Skinner spark seemed to be slightly dulled. His pacing of the stage, head down almost facing the floor seemed to indicate a lack of confidence in the material, and at times you could see why. A gag about walking up a church tower and being able to see his guide hanging out of short shorts was a teenager’s sense of humour, and took about a minute longer to get there than it ever should have. A discussion about the aches of aging, and the fact that injuries no longer have stories attached is possibly an older observation than Skinner himself.
There are still flashes of the usual charisma, and boyish charm, particularly with reference to his crowd work, where some empty seats or a front row loner allow the quick fire gags he is known for to shine through. What helps these sections is the fact that he actually seems to be enjoying himself, giggling at his own punchlines and seeming like he wants to be there. It’s just a shame this doesn’t buoy the rest of the show.
On the punchlines, telegraphed though they may be, the near full Festival theatre audience do seem to be loving the show, although this dulls as the show goes on. Possibly more a case of the man over the material. In summary, this feels like a case of doing a tour for a tour’s sake. I can’t help but feel a little bit of a rest to ease the aches and refresh the material might be required.