By Aline Mahrud
WORTH A LOOK?: **** RUNTIME: 60 minutes
WHEN?: Tuesday 18 October 2022
We’re asked not to record this sell-out show of a work-in-progress set in any way otherwise we will be asked to leave and so forgive us if our recollection is not as accurate as we would have liked.
- Read on for reasons including our prediction that some arena-sized shows are about to go on sale
You join us in the 4th row of this 400-seat theatre and our phone remains in our pocket throughout this show and our pad and pen untroubled as Flanagan explains that we are going to help him write his next set.
It’s a far cry from 2017 when he went on to sell over 600,000 tickets for his An’ Another Fing… tour which was the biggest stand up tour in the world that year and included 11 sold-out nights at The 02.
Flanagan ambles onstage with his own pad boasting prompts for material including ‘Beep beep’ that he rests on a table so he can return to it when not quite in full flow.
It’s 5pm on a Tuesday afternoon as our comic hero ponders what lies his audience must have told to be here at a time when many others are working and also the 5-year break including Covid before the return he is now working on.
Much of the material in this understandably disjointed but nevertheless frequently laugh-out-loud funny set is not a million miles from the East End growing-up-in-the-70s-friendly schtick with which he made his name.
But it is framed by a device which allows Flanagan to explore the difficulties partners in larger properties than he grew up in can sometimes have when speaking to each other from some distance.
We last saw Flanagan in real life and indeed spoke to him at the last matinee of West End play The Seagull in September and he seemed such a fish out of water we wondered whether he would use that experience in this short run of shows in a venue nearby renowned for returning comics to try out new material which is currently already playing host to a soon-to-reappear Ricky Gervais.
Sure enough, there was a skit about the possibility of a future Micky Flanagan musical which incorporated his beloved ‘Out, out’ catchphrase.
Less successful we thought was a toe dip into the waters of Covid with a Boris Johnson impersonation but he was back on more side-splitting ground when he returned to the changing rooms of his former school and the observation of how it took in older classmates from abroad who appeared physically much more mature than their contemporaries.
We loved the inspiration that a proximity to Soho seemed to bring and a section on rimming, Channel 4’s First Dates and the forwardness of gay men and latterly many younger people we thought was both particularly well-observed and revelled in.
Flanagan turned 60 this month and befitting of someone who has found fame perhaps unexpectedly later in their career than they might have imagined, he’s relaxed about it but also attuned to the difficulties of ageing.
Inevitably, it’s when he exaggarates his comedy with particularly sweary interludes of ‘f*ck’s and even the occasional c-bomb that the devoted crowd goes wild.
Inevitably with gigs like these, the material doesn’t all quite hang together for 60 minutes but it’s a fascinating insight into the arena-pleasing burst with which he’s about to return to showbusiness.
His website doesn’t list upcoming tour dates but there’s a 2-hour show that sold out very quickly at Blackheath Halls (returns) this month which indicates to us that he might just be about to announce some big dates. There’s a link to his mailing list at the tickets link below where we guess those signed up will be the 1st with all the gig news.
And we’re guessing you’d want to be ‘out, out’ for those.