The premise of Day’s show – he’s a middle-aged man whose barnet is vanishing – is a little premature. From the cheap seats, he seems to have a perfectly fine head of hair for a forty-something, certainly more luxurious than some of the shiny pates in the audience. But it sets the right tone for the show – a slightly world-weary skip through family, football, a little politics, illness. There’s something refreshingly old-fashioned about this gig. Day, mic, glass of water. No funny voices, no high-and-mighty concepts, no props (well, only one), no charging round the stage. This bloke-down-the-pub school of comedy might have been done for by Baddiel & Skinner a decade ago, but maybe it should be allowed a second wind.
A rather lengthy opening, but one that keeps you interested, sees Day explain his family background. He then appears to rehash material from last year’s show about his wife’s illness (it may just be an update for those who saw it) which is told in good style. But then he hits a flat spot…
Day goes for the referendum/election (a Labour man, he has something to say about the SNP) without realising quite how funny and how nuanced you have to be as a non-Scot to get away with it. In this situation, it is neither. Ploughing the furrow further, he follows up with a line, pitting moneybags London against the rest of the country, that’s even more potentially antagonistic, without having sufficient comedy value. Three separate elements within the audience do collapse in hysterics, but it’s with a rich, plummy laughter that suggests their only experience of recession has been laying off one of the groundskeepers. This passage is ill-judged – if it doesn’t turn the audience against him, it may well turn them against their fellow audience members.
Atmosphere suitably soured, he brings it back round with more on hair loss and family loss – his depiction of rosary-toting aunts round his dying mother’s bedside is instantly recognisable, with a Father Ted-like knowing poke at religion. It all ends with a neat, bar-room philosophic conclusion, albeit it one that probably only has the weight to carry half an hour’s build-up. So, it’s a decent set from Day; it’s just wrong-footed in a couple of places, unless he really is trolling non-Londoners.