As a huge number of the entries in the Fringe programme could tell you, the life of a stand-up is a tough one – hours and hours of unpaid work just to get a decent set together and followed by a life of travel, constantly having to single-handedly win over a new audience every night. Small wonder then that most who start their careers in stand-up don’t end up going the distance.
A solid hour where you’ll find yourself with a consistent grin on your face.
After over 30 years, Phill Jupitus is one of the rare exceptions. From his Porky the Poet roots way back in 1984, he’s managed to survive nearly 35 years of gigging to become one of the UK’s most recognisable comedy faces. So what happens to an alternative comedian when they find they’ve suddenly become respectable?
This, intentional or not, is the theme of Sassy Knack – largely gone is the political comment and in is new material about the life Jupitus is living now, academic functions and Bake Off. On the one hand, this is a shame – as a Labour activist from the 80s, it’d be interesting to hear his thoughts on the current climate – but the shift in subject doesn’t make it any less funny.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a bit of recognisable content in there – Jupitus has always been a theatrical comedian and his tendency to structure jokes around a microphone sound-effect is strongly present throughout. His stories are also padded out with a few elements that stretch credulity a little bit, especially when prefaced with a “True story…”. However, both of these are part and parcel of his approach and feel familiar rather than stale.
After so long in the business, Jupitus’ comedy persona has been well-honed and he projects an air of unflappability and total comfort in front of the microphone. It’s difficult to tell how many of the laughs are due to strong material and how much is pure technique, but the end result is a solid hour where you’ll find yourself with a consistent grin on your face. Whatever else changes, that’ll always be the aim of a stand-up show.