What Lee Mack gives us is a take-it-or-leave-it, madcap, irreverent, head-spinning, ramped-up, brain-addling, quickfire comedy compilation and leaves you in no doubt this is a mirth-maker at the top of his game and loving every minute of it.
Lee Mack – star of the sitcom Not Going Out and team captain of the panel show Would I Lie To You – brought his crazy, anarchic wit to the Colston Hall for a three-day run as part of his Hit The Road Mac UK tour.
It’s indubitable that some of his jokes are predictable and others cheesier than a month-old slab of Stilton, but there’s a wickedly sharp, satirical edge to his barbed jibes and borderline jokes that make him cheekily, wryly appealing even when he’s extracting the proverbial urine out of you – as a few select audience members of the front row got a taste of with his cutting repartee.
This is his first tour in four years, and from the minute he marched on stage he was whirling dervish of manic energy and machine-gun style comic delivery. It’s a frantic mix of jokes, gags and one-liners and it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with his mile-a-minute banter and sardonic observations (“Next week, we’re celebrating two years of happy marriage. [Cheers]. We’ve been married for 12.”)
Not all of it works, but for every joke that falls flat he has another five zingers up his sleeve that hammer-blow the funny bone with genuine side-splitting ferocity. He rattles on so quickly it’s astonishing he doesn’t trip over his own lines more often, and the audience has to be just as razor-ship as he is to keep up with his mesmerizing verbal and physical energy.
His routine is old fashioned, vaudevillian schtick and as simple a set you could possibly get, being as it is just Mack in a suit with a microphone, a few lights and a handkerchief, and the comedy maestro’s name set out in big shiny lightbulbs behind him.
Mack is the master of audience participation and picks on some of the crowd with a slew of near-the-knuckle remarks and Carry On-style innuendos, peppering his act with liberal sprinkling of bad language with naughty schoolboy glee. He’s fast, funny, excitable, high-energy, quick tempo, pacing the stage like a caged animal, and occasionally vein-poppingly aggressive. He had the crowd in stitches from start to finish.
Mack’s support act, Mike Gunn, was also a class act and surely one of the best warm-up comedians on the comedy circuit, with a droll, deadpan delivery of fresh and amusingly honest material, and if there’s any justice he should get more mainstream exposure.
But it was Mack the audience came to see and it was Mack who – like, well, a knife – cut to the comedy bone with masterly incisions, in turns preposterous and brilliant, from a phony memory act to a bogus attempt at horoscope reading with a hint of terrible magic thrown in (appropriate for a self-confessed Tommy Cooper fan).
There’s no theme to bind everything together, no moral, no message, no unifying nugget to take away, and you won’t really learn anything deep or insightful about Mack the man, who he is or what he really cares about. But that’s not the point. What Mack gives us is a take-it-or-leave-it, madcap, irreverent, head-spinning, ramped-up, brain-addling, quickfire comedy compilation and leaves you in no doubt this is a mirth-maker at the top of his game and loving every minute of it.
Reviewed by Jamie Caddick for 365Bristol