Josh Widdicombe begins his set by confessing that he was just short enough to be eligible to play the eponymous Hobbit of Peter Jackson's latest epic trilogy. Happily, Widdicombe's physical stature is not matched by his comedic talent.
Like his Tolkienian doppelgänger, Widdicombe is successful largely due to his affable character. He was excellent at getting the audience on his side, wryly mocking late-comers to his show despite the fact that he himself had been delayed. He took interruptions in his stride, turning a heckle from the back about an Irn Bru advert into a bemused and brilliant segment of his wider act. Indeed, Widdicombe particularly excelled in the way that he regularly incorporated previous comments into his current joke, turning his whole set into a tightly-organised feast of self-referential nuggets.
The effort to which Widdicombe had gone to carefully hone his set was also demonstrated by the different props, from an old telephone to a packet of Super Noodles, which he skilfully employed as hooks to comment on wider issues. As may be supposed from the items mentioned above, Widdicombe is unashamedly not a 'big issue comedian,' feeling more comfortable mocking - in his frustrated falsetto - those little things that the British seem to spend so much time worrying over. Think kettles and Exeter St David's photobooths over Eddie Izzard-style tirades about nationalism.
Not that this is a bad thing. Widdicombe is clearly in touch with his audience's sensibilities: his act had the hall enraptured for the duration. Foreigners might mock the British for their obsession with the little things in life, but if our culture gifts us comedians like Josh Widdicombe, then give me toast and passport photos over Iraq and bankers any day.