Johansson is master of the classic ‘making the audience think I’m just going off on a spontaneous tangent before the show proper starts but actually this is just my show’ manoeuvre. Only his tangent was about his love for bears. His ideas on more having more bears in Britain solving the problems of the riots, gypsies and dogging just became tiresome. Extreme fantastical whimsicality is fine occasionally, but a ten minute spiel of it was too much to take. His material was often too genuine to be funny. Johannson had some very touching moments in his show about his wife, his mother and his love for animals, particularly bears. I was often moved at these moments, but it just wasn’t comedy.
After an anecdote about roaring like a bear to frighten airport staff into letting him on a plane to see his ill mother, Johannsson closes the show with a video montage of, you guessed it, bears. The montage was amusing, and I thought that if Johannsson wanted to convince his audience that bears are cool, he’s done it. At the end of the video, Johannsson has put a dedication to his mother. He then returns to the stage with tears in his eyes, inspiring some in mine too. Bears had helped him see his mother before she died. Beautiful.
The intelligent and heartfelt ending made up for what had previously been a disappointing hour. On balance, his story is one worth hearing.