He may share stylistic similarities, but you’d be wrong to think Rob Mulholland was one of the right-wing ‘you can’t say anything any more’ brigade. For one, he’s party apolitical. He can’t even be arsed to spoil his ballot paper come election time. For two, he explicitly states that of course you can say what you want. You just have to be prepared to duck for the reaction. Us Yorkshire folk speak as we find. And by speaking as he finds, Knaresborough’s Rob Mulholland knows he courts a bad reaction or two, even though, like everyone, he’s just here for a laugh.
Fortunately, he’s got ‘his’ crowd in tonight and though he sails close to the wind with material that would cause tuts and walk outs in more mixed company, this Opium lot are up for it. Besides, he’s smart enough to get away with it. He’ll drop what sounds like an un-PC clanger and then not so much walk it back as wander around covering lots of bases until you’re convinced the original statement wasn’t as raw as you might have thought.
There’s two places where such bluntness can get him into hot water. The first – you guessed it – is the internet. His general strategy of turning it off and going for a walk is a healthy one. But he can’t help but be pissed off that people can’t tell the difference between him fat shaming his best mate and fat shaming a random stranger. He does a good take on this and why – look away now, those of a sensitive disposition – fat-shaming might not always be a bad thing?
The second place where he runs into trouble is his new home of Brighton. He may look like he’d be at home there with his organic, Fairtrade facial hair, but his gob keeps dropping him in it. That doesn’t stop him fighting back, as he did with the Brighton-dweller who criticised the ethics of his grocery shopping, while indulging in unethical practices of his own…
There’s a big finale here which sums up Mulholland’s set perfectly. He announces, with great moment, and to the audible anticipation of the crowd, that he’s about to do feminism. He then picks apart a particular aspect of equality he’s got an issue with. It’s forthright, crude, and would go down (fnarr fnarr!) like a lead balloon in certain quarters, but successfully brings tonight’s crowd to a rapturous climax.
Mulholland talks a good game of not being fussed about negative reactions to his humour, although it’s a claim that’s not really tested among tonight’s crowd. You’d hesitate to call him ‘edgy’ as that’s not his schtick, but it is unpretentious, ribald, traditional stand-up. It often feels like you know the direction it’s heading, but, to use traditional Yorkshire understatement, it does the job.