David Longley’s act is structured almost like Shakespeare, summarizing the course of the evening in its first moments: “I’ve always wanted to do standup that’s like talking to my best friend, but I can’t do that, so I do club comedy.” And indeed, he spends the next hour proving that point to us over and over again, all the while complaining about the very club comedy that he does skillfully.
He disparages his own material, writing it off as being for “drunk idiots” that make up his typical audience
The format of the show is jarring: he dons a gaudy sequined jacket and delivers jokes from his bawdy and familiar late-night set, removes the jacket and dissects the joke he just told, and then segues into material on subject matter that he deems too divisive to be club-friendly. He disparages his own material, writing it off as being for “drunk idiots” that make up his typical audience. By putting down his drunk idiot jokes, it effectively turns each one into a set up for his “real jokes”-- a long, drawn out set up with ultimately little pay off.
Curiously, Longley’s attempts to contradict his club material with jokes about the “truth” behind his material never supersede club comedy by themselves. A club-approved joke about a mate’s fat girlfriend, which he rightly decries as being “somewhat misogynistic”, is turned into a “body positive” joke wherein he discusses the appeal of having sex with a woman’s neck fat. Equally as crude as the original, if not more so, it became difficult to discern exactly what his problem with his club material was.
Longley’s analysis of his own audiences is a highlight of the set. He recognises the demographic of his late night, large audience crowds and appeals to them deftly: stories about drunkenness, fighting, and sex all are artfully constructed to get them on his side. Appeasing hen do’s and drunken lads is his bread and butter, but he is fearful of how his audiences interpret jokes that touch on subjects like race, and whether they’re laughing from a point of mutual understanding or maliciousness.
Everything I Hate About My Club Set ended up being a confusing, cluttered rant scattered with jokes both beloved and abhorred by the very person telling them. The material he felt wasn’t club appropriate was delivered with the same amount of obscenity and raucousness that was a trademark of his club material, making them much more suited to that environment than I think Longley even realised. Try as he might, he can’t escape the club roots that brought him success, but perhaps if he stopped trying to escape them and instead trusted his commanding presence and seasoned chops to win over audiences regardless of subject matter, it would be a more rewarding experience for everyone involved.