Frank Skinner – Man in a Suit**** (St James Studio, 18 January 2014)

Posted: January 19, 2014 in Theatre

Frank SkinnerAfter a six year absence, this show marks the return to the comedy circuit of the man best known for his sharply observed anecdotal comedy, relaxed style and impeccable choice of footballing allegiance. He comments that he is one of the few grey-haired celebrities still at liberty and invites us to cherish seeing him live, adding coyly “while you still can”. Frank is well aware that his star has waned slightly since the days of seven figure television contracts and he uses this as a theme running throughout; the title derives from the suits that he was allowed to keep after each BBC show that he hosted and which he now wears constantly, even using them as pyjamas; he agonises over the moral dilemma of whether he should give most of them to Oxfam or give the charity the boosted proceeds after selling them on E-Bay as belonging to him; he argues that failure to take the egocentric route could cost lives in Africa. Perhaps Frank would now struggle to fill the arena venues favoured by some comics, but his conversational style suits a more intimate setting much better and it was a real privilege to see him up close in this small cabaret room. Maybe he can eventually be persuaded to scale down further and perform as a dinner party guest, which would be his perfect milieu. Of course, the routine is rigorously prepared and structured, but it is the mark of Frank’s skill that his delivery always feels improvised; however, when dealing with a lively group of friendly hecklers at this performance, he still had numerous opportunities to display his quick-wittedness. After over an hour, he reflects on the absence of risqué jokes and, thereafter, reverts frequently to his past norm. So, the show is two unbroken hours of laughter and this performance took place on a rare Saturday evening when, not having played, even Frank’s football team could not have dampened the mood.

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