Josh Widdicombe has an immediately likeable stage presence, engaging the audience from the outset. He gets the topical/satirical material out of the way first, dispensing with the Olympics and the banking crisis in the same sentence, before moving on to what he excels at – observation.
In an overpopulated comedy landscape, where hordes of unfunny men crawl the wilderness like malformed MacIntyre-like zombies, it can be difficult for a really talented observational comic to get ahead. But Widdicombe might make it. He has that rare gift for spotting the ludicrous in the mundane, making modern life itself the punchline. Widdicombe’s reflections are genuinely original, pinpointing everyday oddities we choose to ignore and drawing them out for inspection. Breakfast cereals, adverts on ATMs and the presence of hardback books in pubs are all put on trial, and the results are as funny as they are eye-opening.
Several of Widdicombe’s best jokes rely on relatively obscure reference points: a source of great comedy, but also a potential hindrance. When one audience member replied to a question about British breakfast cereals by confessing, ‘I’m an American, I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about,’ Widdicombe admitted that a lot of the show might go over their head. While the specificity of references to Wingdings, Kellogg’s Start and The Crystal Maze can be hilarious for those in the know, it can also ruin the punchline for those who aren’t. Nevertheless, Widdicombe’s remarkable charm and charisma are enough to keep the audience on his side throughout, even though they may find themselves unsure what it is they’re laughing at.