HE has come a long way since playing to a handful of indifferent nightclubbers in a Nottingham cave.
Around 20 years ago, Lee Evans was a jobbing comic playing anywhere that would have him. And that included The Hippo, the club on Bridlesmith Gate later known as The Bomb.
He once recalled to the Post how he’d struggled to be heard over the noise from next room, every time someone opened the adjoining door.
Now everyone is hanging on his every word at an astonishing five consecutive sell-out shows at the Capital FM Arena. That’s 7,500 people every night.
And the Roadrunner UK tour, which runs at the venue until Monday, is his fourth jaunt around UK arenas. You do the math.
Lucky then if you were among those who caught his ‘secret’ shows at The Glee Club earlier this year where he was trying out material for this tour.
Fair play to the sweary, self-deprecating and sweaty stand-up, he’s worked hard at honing his craft since those days of The Hippo - and the first time I saw him, at the Theatre Royal in the mid-nineties, which still remains one of the best comedy gigs I’ve ever seen.
The material is nothing particularly original. He complains about shopping with his missus of 28 years in Ikea, in a deafening HMV (“I’m turning into me dad”) and the “jumble sale shambles” of Sports Direct.
He complains about air travel (“as soon as the plane gets off the ground it turns into a shop”).
And he complains about British TV shows: Embarrassing Bodies, Time Team, Cash In The Attic and The Jewellery Channel (a hilarious routine).
But then again other British comedy heavyweights like Peter Kay and Michael McIntyre do much the same.
It’s all about the delivery. Few could get a huge laugh impersonating a duck dealing with a slice of bread.
There are three huge screens for us to catch those bodily jerks and facial expressions, which are an integral part of a Lee Evans show.
As are the sound effects, from speeding cars to the broken video link to a news reporter in Libya. And be prepared because it’s LOUD. The rumble of the bass on his entrance music, the bombastic Also Sprach Zarathustra, as used by Elvis Presley during the seventies, is enough to shake the change from your pocket.
And when he voices the sound of trainers on a basketball court the woman next to me had her fingers in her ears.
The stage set is, for whatever reason, some kind of ice cave and there animations and interval videos to dress the stand-up show that runs for nearly three hours (with a 25 minute break).
There’s a new and purposely unfunny song to close the main set with an old favourite for the encore.
Extra tickets were released for all his Nottingham shows. Call 08444 124624 for availability.