Ostensibly painting himself as a money “expert” now, Simon Evans has been enjoying a great run on Radio 4 over the past few years with Simon Evans Goes to Market, exploring the financial implications of marriage, coffee and gold, among other matters.
The bad news is that the show isn’t quite as centred around economics as you might think, with a number of observations on the 2008 financial crash and “sound” investment advice dotted into an otherwise fairly money-light hour of stand-up. This might seem an odd disappointment, given how boring economics is generally perceived to be, but Evans has made such a good job of humanising and drawing laughs from it on his radio series, it does feel like a slightly missed opportunity. Financial aspects that are there are excellently drawn out – Evans narrates his travails in the jealousy-inducing 90s/00s housing market with such wit, they could have gone on for another 10 minutes.
Happily, even without the economics, what remains is an extremely excellent and well-crafted show. Evans is a master of the basics of his craft, which is very much to heap real rather than false praise upon him. His timing, delivery, the consummate confidence – he looks as though he’s barely breaking a sweat. Quaffing a fine glass (or three) of port throughout plays into his throwback, captain-of-industry, almost imperial persona, a striding figure nicely undercut by the fact that he was still watching daytime television, unemployed, at the age of 35.
Some of the best material focuses on his family and children in particular, financial burdens as they are. Evans mentions that he is fattening his son up, in order to retain some kind of physical advantage, and then paints natural childish curiosity as a reason that expensive private schools simply aren’t worth the money. It’s a reminder that it doesn’t matter if a performer’s persona is everything that (some) audiences are alleged to take against – talent will out, and Evans has it in spades.