Like I Mean It, this year’s show from Stuart Goldsmith, is fantastically well-crafted and beautifully executed. It’s good, and Goldsmith knows it’s good. One gets the impression that this is the show he’s been trying to write for years. There’s no strong overarching theme, beyond discussion of Goldsmith’s life now that he has a wife and a baby, but the show is no weaker for that. He knows his audience and he’s in complete control. Goldsmith comes out swinging, with an unshakeable confidence that hasn’t always been present in his previous shows. He knows that he can lead the audience wherever he wants them to go, which allows him to have some fun with the pacing and throw in a few gleefully cheeky misleads.
For some years now, Goldsmith has hosted The Comedian’s Comedian podcast, an unapologetically geeky exploration of the writing process of some of the best comedians in the world. He’s been admirably open about his own journey as a stand-up, as well, and his regular audience are now as interested in the craft and the method of Goldsmith’s shows as they are in the material itself. That’s not to say that Goldsmith doesn’t get laughs, though: he does, by the bellyful. His gimmick of occasionally breaking away, supposedly to record notes for his future self listening back to the gig, is great. Not only does it allow him to pass meta-comments on the jokes and the structure, but it’s also a knowing wink to those in his audience who are all too aware of how fastidiously Goldsmith thinks about the craft of stand-up.
Like I Mean It deftly handles the comedian’s cliche of “I’ve just had a baby, so that’s all I’m capable of writing jokes about now”. Goldsmith is eminently capable of deviating from his core subject when he needs to, but it’s obvious that he wants to talk about his family and his newfound happiness. It’s strange to see Goldsmith genuinely happy, and even stranger to see that contentment produce some of the strongest material of his career so far. He’s sincere and basically honest, but also never shies away from artifice if it heightens the humour. As well as containing one of the most subtle and elegant dick jokes The Wee Review has ever heard, Like I Mean It is a densely-packed hour of clever, finely-crafted comedy that’s a joy to experience. “Thanks, man”, indeed.