Last night, I broke an all time absolute never by attending a stand up comedy show in an arena. Personally I prefer the intimacy of a comedy club. It really does take a talented and confident performer like Russell Howard to keep 10,000 plus people laughing for nearly two hours. He didn’t disappoint.
Performing on a stage in the middle of the arena, that made him as close and as far to everyone, Howard was on fire the entire night. There was all the usual topics you come to expect off him, with material about his off the wall family and the embarrassing situations he finds himself in. Some of my personal favourites include stories about his bad influence on his nephew, his parents quirky comments and unseen moments from his Comic Relief trip to Liberia, were all delivered with his brand of exhilarating comical physicality, facial expressions and voices.
But for anyone familiar with his now debunked TV show, Good News, Howard is passionate and genuinely affected by current affairs. With the state of the modern world, he certainly had enough inspiration at his finger tips and sure enough he wasted no time and took no prisoners when lambasting Isis, Trump, Farage, and social media, to name but a few.
Howard thankfully didn’t fall into the trap of a preachy, left wing and biased stand up comic – everyone was equally criticised, the left and the right. It was material that made you laugh and think because it came from the heart and was a relief to see a celebrity talk some sense.
One of the reasons for many of the social problems he believes is, thanks to a vein culture of TOWIE and Geordie Shore, there are no role models and heroes; after last night, he’s certainly become mine. I believe everyone should see this show and rejoice. He’s a shining light in these dark times, because alongside the seriousness is a man who’s clearly having fun.
His occasional blips and obvious struggle with accents didn’t matter, because he was able to make light of it and laugh at himself; a point he regularly made of how we can cope in these gloomy times.
At 37, he admits to being immature and certainly with his bleached blonde hair, fashion style of t-shirt and jeans and crude sense of humour, he has a more youthful demeanor. But further material about ageing, fear of death and the passing of his grandparents, also demonstrates a vulnerability underneath this seemingly confident and almost laid back exterior.
I’m glad Russell Howard was the first stand up comedian I saw at an arena. The audience was firmly on his side and clearly resonated with his common sense thought process of today’s issues, responding with enthusiastic laughs, cheers and applause. This simply wouldn’t have been as impactful in a theatre.