The Monkey Man

It’s the middle of nowhere and in a seemingly deserted shack a man is tied to a chair. He is convulsing and struggling to breathe, bent double as the pain spreads across his chest and down his sides. In closeup we see the muscles in his face strain and pulse, the dull throb evident after the first 20 minutes but there is no let up, the pace doesn’t slow, no remorse is shown.

The camera pans slowly round the writhing body until a glow, soon to be identified as a television set, enters the frame. Passing round the bobbing head of the man, tears are streaming down his face, his eyes locked on to the images on the screen in front of him. The camera pauses and changes focus, the television screen leaps into clarity and on it a man, in a dark suit, is parading around a stage. He is drenched in sweat, mopping his face and head with a white towel, and frequently emits an embarassed giggle… .

Lee Evans is an evil man. On three separate occasions last night he tried to stop me from performing the most basic function that a body requires, and I had to force myself to sit upright and BREATHE…. ahhhhh….

Relentless, hysterical, hyperactive, engaging, self-effacing, inventive, hilarious and many other words can’t really sum up the Lee Evans live show. From the Baz Luhrmann-esque introduction video, to the closing reprise of his mimed version of Bohemian Rhapsody (the first time thing I ever saw him perform), his energy, enthusiasm and the sheer velocity of jokes saw this two and half hour set zoom by in a blur of guffaws, belly laughs and “please stop for a minute, I CAN’T BREATHE!!” hysterics.

As ever the difference between me telling a joke and a comedian telling a joke is the delivery, and whilst I am going to mention a couple of his observations I’m not listing them here to make you laugh but so I can remember them at a later date.

On his dog:

You know that way dogs scratch their bum across the carpet? Well we had a nylon carpet and by the time he got to the other side of the room he looked like Don King!

On global warming:

Everywhere I go in my house there are pebbles, people are worried that the coastline is disappearing. No it’s not! It’s in my fucking living room! And of course there are all those candles. That’s the real reason the world is getting warmer, all those fucking candles!!

On travel:

And what gate do you get? ‘Gate 54 Sir’. Ohh it’s never Gate 1 is it! Have you EVER been to Gate 1!!! What are they trying to do, save FUCKIN PETROL!

The trick is that they weigh the luggage but they don’t weigh us! Put on ALL your holiday clothes and waddle up to the checkin desk, that’ll teach ’em! ‘Are you checking in any luggage Sir?’ No, I’m wearing it all!

On technology:

His palmpilot does “actual” handwriting recognition so you can “actually” write on it, in your own “actual” writing and it “actually” recognises it! Hold on mate, I’ll just get an “actual” pen and “actually” write this down on an “actual” PIECE OF PAPER!!

Monks were the first photocopiers you know, they’d sit in rooms making copies of the bible. Can you imagine the repairman coming out to fix a broken Monk? “Ohh sorry love, I don’t do Brothers, only Canons…”

And so on and on and on… if you’ve seen Lee Evans perform you’ll can imagine the voices, the indignation, the timing, the shouting, the physical comedy involved with the above.

Anyway, I can safely say that I have NEVER laughed so hard for so long. My face still aches this morning, as do my sides and I keep getting little flashbacks and giggling like an idiot. That got me a few strange looks on the train this morning.

Ohh and a brief word to all those people SOOOOO desperate to leave early. Yes I know he marks the end of his sets with a song, and yes it wasn’t a comedy song (but that’s part of his charm, the bittersweet sendup), but if you’d just waited a little longer you’d have gotten the bonus treat at the end. I’m pretty sure it was staged, even if he did make it seem impromptu – claiming that a bloke he’d bumped into in the street yesterday had said he’d better ” ‘fuckin’ do it, or I’ll kill ye’ and… well… this is Glasgow so I figured he might actually do it!” – it was still an excellent EXCELLENT ending to a wonderful night of entertainment.

Eddie Izzard was “clever funny”, well written, well delivered and made me laugh out loud a lot. Lee Evans is well written (including those ’embarassed giggles’ which he very cleverly uses to sustain the laughter… definitely a stage trick that one) and interweaves a lot of the gags together as well but the key difference is the energy. Lee Evans is a tornado onstage, and his enthusiasm pours out and drags you into his surreal little world.

In closing then, for I’m beginning to waffle, I’ll pick out one line from his show. He delivered it in the midst of a stream of jokes, pausing to look over the audience with a gentle smile on his face. It was said softly, genuinely and with the emotion of a man who loves what he does. Straight after it he launched back into the next joke, almost as if he hadn’t said it, but he did and it summed up the night for me perfectly.

Listen to that laughter, what a great sound

Indeed it is, Mr Evans. Thank you for providing it.