Though a wayward arachnid hanging from the ceiling threatened to steal Walsh’s show on the night I was there, his genuine reaction to it – ‘HOLY SHIT’ – turned into ten minutes of a fantastic ad-libbed routine: ‘I’ve never been heckled by a spider before’.
It’s testament to the comic gifts that Walsh possesses. Comfortable moving in and out of his prepared material, he is always alert to the audience and to the possibility of using his surroundings to add to his act. A heckler attempting to give him a ‘high ten’ is destroyed; a door to the toilets becomes the door to a 24-hour shop across the street.
The Lie-in King is, as Walsh admits, about his failed attempts at self-improvement. Having recently moved into his own flat, Walsh discusses the pitfalls of hosting your own parties and having constant access to Facebook and Sky Sports News. Living across the street from a 24-hour shop isn’t good if you want to ease off the booze. This material is familiar territory but Walsh’s confessional and observational approach lends it a freshness sorely lacking amongst his contemporaries. Walsh also has some serious acting chops: a section in which he impersonates other comedians is adept and intelligent; an impression of much-maligned Michael McIntyre is especially delicious.
With the spider incident adding another ten minutes to the show, Walsh was made to rush through his closing material, however the final twenty minutes also contain the weakest sections. The closing set-piece felt forced and unnecessary in comparison to the convivial, chatty feel of the first half. Walsh has said recently that he honed his craft working in a pub and talking with punters, and it is when he is talking right at you that he is at his most charming and effective. The Lie-in King is a well-written and -performed show and Walsh’s presence is wonderfully animating; this show might just signal Walsh’s rise to the top tier of the comic jungle.