John Lloyd: Emperor of the Prawns

John Lloyd: Emperor of the Prawns is billed as an hour of comedy, but turns out to be so much more. A potent mix of TED Talk and stand-up, Lloyd’s show flawlessly combines anecdotes with inspired ideas.Not many comedians would attempt to explain human existence in an hour, but comedy is not even where Lloyd cut his teeth.

His central message, just like the show, is simple, elegant, and not to be missed.

Lloyd has an impressive collection of television credits. He is perhaps most famous for being the producer of British television hits such as Spitting Image, Blackadder and QI. Yet it is his friendship with Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, that has the most influence on the subject matter of the show.

Although told from a comedic perspective the themes Lloyd handles are very profound and complex. (What is the meaning of life? What is life? How did it begin?) Despite that, the audience never has to get bogged down in the details because of Lloyd’s ability to merge comedy into his act.

The humour often comes in the form of anecdotes from the life of either a famous personality, a friend of Lloyd’s, or Lloyd himself. Yet every joke is not just told for a laugh. There are no digressions. Each anecdote has a point to make, or a theory to prove. Humour is the perfect tool in Lloyd’s hands, which he uses to make his ideas accessible.

At a glance the set for the show is something that a lecturer would probably feel at home in: a lectern, and a projector screen. That, and his razor sharp wit, is all Lloyd needs to make the audience laugh and simultaneously ponder some of the biggest questions known to man.

The best aspect of Lloyd’s monologue is that after each punch line you have to stop and think. The jokes are accessible but when considered in combination with Lloyd’s thought-through ideas, every joke takes on a new meaning and becomes a part of his developing argument.

The show itself is a well-oiled routine. The simple presentation behind Lloyd goes from slide to slide without a hitch and Lloyd knows exactly when to turn his back to the audience, when to leave a pause for effect, and when to wander off stage. The punch line is always perfectly timed, and the laughs always come at the right moment.

Lloyd’s real strength comes not only from his humour but his ability as a storyteller. Every anecdote is a story, and it only works because Lloyd knows exactly how to tell it. Usually this means putting on a character and doing impressions, which can range from Albert Einstein to a talking wolf.

What really pushes the show over to five stars is the way Lloyd concludes the hour of entertainment. As he finishes up his monologue, taking you through another whirlwind of ideas, his central message is revealed. Just like the show, it’s simple, elegant, and not to be missed.

Reviews by Anton Kudryashov Jr.

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The Blurb

Find out what the hell this means with the bloke behind QI, Blackadder and Spitting Image, and host of BBC Radio 4's Museum of Curiosity. 'A perfect hour of laughter' ***** (Telegraph). 'An eloquent raconteur of fine comic timing' **** ( 'A thoroughly entertaining show' **** (Times). 'Lloyd's performance is impeccable' **** (List).