Frank Skinner has not been on a solo tour for seven years. On the evidence of his Grand Opera House show this week, he hasn’t lost a step.
Skinner is best known in this country for his laddish, football based persona, but that is long in the past. The 2014 version of Frank Skinner is much more laid back, a bit less filthy but a whole lot more sharply dressed.
Frank Skinner: Man In A Suit
Grand Opera House
Before we were introduced to Skinner, we had the support act. Being a support act is never easy, but supporting a big name like Skinner must be even worse.
There we are, waiting to see Frank Skinner, when out comes a 30-something up and comer to try to warm up and win over a largely ambivalent crowd.
Gareth Richards used to be Skinner’s sidekick on his Absolute Radio show, and now supports him on tour, and his is a very different kind of comedy.
Richards mixes traditional stand up with songs played on an omnichord (no, me either!), but won over this crowd with his self deprecating routine about his kids and a song about his mate Dave, who is like a fridge.
Sounds ridiculous, and actually it is, but also very sharp and funny.
After the interval Frank Skinner came out to no fanfare, no big introduction – he just wandered onto stage after the lights went down. An unassuming entrance for a man utterly comfortable on a stage, and seemingly at peace with himself.
There are modern comedians who have good material and a good presence but always feel like they are trying too hard. Skinner is of a different breed.
The majority of his routine was carried out while ambling backwards and forwards across the stage, throwing out gags seemingly at random, never feeling like he was trying to force a laugh.
What stood out, particularly because I see a lot of comedy, was that it never felt like a tightly scripted, prepared hour – more like a man with 30 years’ of material following one gag with another because he thought we would laugh at it.
A particular highlight were a couple of haiku that he read out. Sounds lame I know, but so sharp and observant that it is easy to see how he made his name on the stage.
I was expecting there to be a slightly lairy edge to the show, given the nature of the Loaded generation that Skinner built his reputation on, but it was a good hour and a half before it got crude, and even then only fleetingly.
On this evidence I will be in the queue next time there is a Frank Skinner show in town. A thoroughly hilarious evening was had by all.