It was a couple of weeks into the Strictly Come Dancing season of 2019 that Chris Ramsey announced his forthcoming tour and we thought “he seems a funny chap, let’s risk it”. Two years, and much anxiety, later, his tour is finally underway and he reached Northampton only ten months later than originally planned. Well, they say good things are worth waiting for, don’t they?
In those intervening two years it’s become clear that Chris Ramsey has become a very different comedy commodity now from then. In those days, his and his wife Rosie’s Shagged Married Annoyed podcast was in its infancy, and I’d certainly never heard of it. Today it’s about as big as podcasts get, and we quickly realised that by far the majority of people in the audience were aficionados of the bickering bonhomie that takes place between him and his wife Rosie. As non-listeners to the podcast – to be honest I’m only just coming to terms with the loss of VHF – when any of the material strayed into his podcast material, we felt a little left out of the joke. Just something to be aware of. He and Rosie are conducting a separate tour of the podcast at the same time as he’s doing his own stand-up shows, so I guess it’s inevitable that there’d be some crossover.
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. First up we had Chris’s support act, Carl Hutchinson, and they’re obviously old mates as he features predominantly in the aforementioned podcast (see observation above). Carl’s a very likeable guy with a slightly laddish demeanour and a confident but never aggressive delivery. He explained that he had spent most of Lockdown playing FIFA against 14 year old boys, which is all very well until it comes to the inevitable post-match trolling. He did a very funny routine about drinking on aeroplanes which was something everyone could relate to. And he taught us the difference between a man’s barbecue and a couple’s barbecue and was spot on at every level. Very funny and very recognisable observations – he gave us about forty minutes and it flew by.
After the interval, we returned for Chris Ramsey, who confesses that one of his worst decisions was to name his new show the 20/20 tour; and proceeded to start his part of the show with what he had written for the show the year ago – as if the intevening months had never happened. Whether his original introductory choice of material was true or not, it was a great idea and a hilarious opening. Chris has a wonderfully engaging personality, full of warmth and humour; the kind of guy you’d stay late at the pub without realising what time it was. Podcast material aside (see above), he has some terrific sequences of comic observations, including Alexa hearing his innermost secrets but not showing the discretion you’d expect from her, the tendency of small children to take inappropriate items with them on a day out, and the embarrassing description his youngest son has decided to give to his, i.e. Chris’s, erm, penis. And if anything ever seems less than classy, or less than efficient, or less than tasteful, well, that’s South Shields for you.
It’s always a delight to be in the presence of a comic master, and that’s definitely what Chris Ramsey is. A beautifully balanced show, with room for some audience participation, some unexpected callbacks, plus the occasional use of video screens which works really well. He ends the evening with a few observations about Strictly, which is rather where we came in two years ago. He has a simple, frank and refreshing sunniness about him that just fills the auditorium. One of those comics whom you could see again and again. Great work!