Review – Stuart Goldsmith – An Hour, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 15th April 2016

Stuart GoldsmithAt the risk of sounding like a broken record (that’s a reference for anyone over the age of 25) this is yet another of those occasions where we thought we’d buy a ticket for a stand-up comedy act that we hadn’t got a clue about. I knew the name Stuart Goldsmith – but I wasn’t entirely sure why. I knew he did comedy. I knew he’d been to Edinburgh. That was all.

I also knew that, as it was called “An hour”, it was due to last an hour, unless he had a support act. He doesn’t. However, the show doesn’t really last an hour either, as Mr Goldsmith invites you to stay back after a short interval and hear some more material that he’s developing, to work out if it’s funny or not, for inclusion in future shows. That’s quite an exciting procedure to be part of, and Mr G was evidently chuffed to discover that we all liked him enough for almost everyone to stay back for the mystery second half, which would also include a Q&A session. However, it’s a bit awkward to share Qs and As with someone when you haven’t got a clue who they are. And true enough, the Qs came from a few likely lads who had taken over the front row and were obviously big fans of his comedy podcast, The Comedian’s Comedian. Even though I’m pretty internet-savvy, I find it difficult to get into youtubers and podcasters. I think it’s because they don’t get listed in the Radio Times. And because I can remember records.

Stuart GSo what of Mr Goldsmith’s comedy hour? It’s extremely enjoyable, urbane, and, above all, funny. Mr G is clearly a very nice bloke even though he says he’s difficult to live with; don’t believe that for a moment. He’s precisely the kind of guy you’d like to spend a night at the pub with. Oh – maybe that’s why he’s difficult to live with… What may at first seem like a rather random ramble through various comic observations of modern life is, without doubt, a pretty tightly scripted soliloquy that has been put together with deft style and planning, and which comes in at – 55 minutes. You might actually have thought to ask for one twelfth of your ticket price back (had it not been for the freebie second half).

Amongst the topics, he picks apart those irritating Facebook friends who are constantly updating their pages with Map My Ride progress; how to tell a Starbucks from a Costa and come out looking like a winner; the Wagamama experience; holidaying on your own; and dementia. And yes, it’s still funny. In the second half, new material that he’s trying out, I thought there was too much emphasis on babies. It’s a thing I have with comics; quite often they’re of the age where they suddenly become parents and the baby brings the potential of a lot of new material into their life. Babies don’t do much for me though, and it doesn’t take me long to get bored with the concept. Sorry about that. But that’s no criticism of An Hour, because if the baby material makes it through, it will be part of the next show.

In brief, a very entertaining and likeable comedian with some top quality material. It’s also safe to sit near the front and not get overly involved in the action. Phew!