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Review: Peter Kay, Capital FM Arena

February 3 2011
IT has been a while. Twelve years, he tells us, since he last did a stand-up show in Nottingham. That was at Just The Tonic when the club was housed at the Old Vic in Fletchergate.

Back then Peter Kay was on the cusp of becoming Britain’s biggest-selling/best known/most successful comedian.
But it has been a while since he spearheaded the comedy charge. Remember, he was probably the first British comedian to turn what was the preserve of the comedy club into its current arena-filling status.
But, of late, the likes of Lee Evans, Ricky Gervais and Michael McIntyre have staked their claim as Britain’s biggest and best.
So where has the Bolton comic been these past few years?
Watching telly, judging by the bulk of his set at the Capital FM Arena on Thursday night, the first of three 7,500 capacity shows.
He ponders the lunacy of Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Come Dine With Me, Grand Designs, Secret Millionaire and Embarrassing Bodies. In the process he nails what the rest of us have been thinking. It’s the sort of observational comedy that has people nudging their partners: “You do that!”
There’s the visit to the dentist, online shopping, DVD box sets, teachers sending kids to sit at “the thick table”, Sky+, not complaining in restaurants and the wheelie bin rota.
It’s a knack that has other comedians kicking themselves that they hadn’t thought of it first. One that makes comedy snobs think he’s actually not that skilled, too simplistic, too obvious.
It’s like his opening, raising the house lights and training a hand-held camera on the audience. Yes, it’s simple but it’s superbly effective.
As ever, his comedy is rooted in the past: Tenko; questioning his microphone “Is this on?”; and “a bit of blue for the dads”. There’s Mister Matey bubble bath and Imperial Leather soap. And his nana’s failure to grasp new technology (“this thiPhone”).
But Kay is savvy enough to deal with a break from the set when someone in the crowd kicks off (we don’t know why). He stops the show, turns up the house lights and commentates on the security staff removing him from the arena.
It gets the biggest cheer. Well, that and his mention of adopted catchphrase “garlic bread”.
Surprisingly, considering the current situation in Cairo, he doesn’t revisit one of other catchphrases, that of booking a holiday “t’Egypt”.
He’s occasionally sweary and dips just once in to the non-PC material -- a two minute rant at the, erm, ‘travelling community’.
The main set finale of misheard song lyrics is once again so simple but so hilarious. And if you’re off to see him tonight, don’t leave early, the musical encore is a bit special.

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