Rob Brydon: I Am Standing Up
- Brian Donaldson
- 21 September 2018
The Trip star gently nibbles on the hands that keep feeding him
Something curious happens around the two-thirds mark at Rob Brydon's latest touring show. This expert impersonator, decent improviser and all-round amiable guy picks up his guitar and sings 'Islands in the Stream'. There's no punchline and no ironic distance. The Welsh wag simply attempts to prove that he has yet another string to his light-entertainment bow. Except, his strumming skills are slightly above rudimentary and his singing voice is just about tolerable. Quite what he's up to here is less than certain, but it's definitely an awkward moment when he waits for (and eventually receives) a warm round of applause for his musical efforts.
There's nothing wrong with waltzing out of your comfort zone, but Brydon is on much safer ground through his opening chatter with the front rows as he ascertains the room's personnel. Feigning disappointment at the lack of youth among his crowd, he spends a full half-hour gently mocking people's ages, names and occupations before tip-toeing into his prepared material about the ways in which even highly educated people are unable to tell the difference between reality and TV fiction (this is followed by an impersonation or two), chucks out an anecdote about James Corden (this is followed by another impersonation or two), and offers a recollection about Paul McCartney (this is followed by, well, you get the drill).
Brydon might wish for the average age of his audience to be heading in a less senior direction, but he knows his crowd only too well. There are some cheers at the Gavin & Stacey references, guffaws about his P&O Cruises ads, and even a request for his Small Man Trapped in a Box voice. After initial faux-reluctance he grants it with perfectly good grace.
Less an actual stand-up show and more a slightly superior variety turn, Rob Brydon has long realised he will never be as edgy as even his old pal Steve Coogan. But the man doth protest too much about his followers' demographic as they await another spot of excellent mimicry.
Rob Brydon: I Am Standing Up is on tour until Saturday 13 October; seen at Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Friday 14 September.