Review: Showbiz Frank Skinner at The Garrick

Frank Skinner Showbiz

Frank Skinner Showbiz - Credit: Archant

The Hampstead comic takes up a month-long residency in the West End with a set that is so consummate and laid back it feels ad libbed

If Skinner is to be believed, his month long residency in the West End is as much to get him out of the house as to earn a crust.

His settled domestic life in Hampstead; seven-year-old son, low libido, relieved when your partner goes out so you can watch TV in your pants, is among the topics in an amiably observational set that's not really about Showbiz - and mercifully not about being famous.

There's a bit of audience banter and a smattering of gossip though, he bounces on to Bruce Forsyth's opener, 'Nice to see you..'

"It's a good catchphrase, he won't be needing it now."

The old hoofer apparently hated it when other comics got a laugh and Skinner is gleeful that with his ashes buried under the stage of The London Palladium, he's likely spinning in his grave.

There are a few near the knuckle moments of irreverence that show he hasn't mellowed entirely, but really he's less interested in offending anyone than in giving his mostly middle-aged audience a belting night out.

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I had to explain references to Forsyth and The Krankies to my 15-year-old, but the sequence about the etiquette in men's urinals was the kind of material that crosses age and gender.

Commenting that the gameshow Room 101 has been canned, he deadpans, "they asked the producer what she wanted to put in Room 101 and..."

Of course it's a well practiced set but Skinner is so at ease, such a consummate performer with such impeccable timing, that these rueful jokes against his ageing self feel almost ad libbed.

Comparing bad backs with the younger comic Jack Whitehall who had fallen off a wall on a night out, he cannot come up with a parallel.

"At my age your back pain doesn't come with an anecdote."

Showbiz isn't surreal or shouty, it's just a seasoned performer in his element and all the better for that.


Showbiz runs at The Garrick Theatre until February 15.