Review – Sarah Millican, Bobby Dazzler, Royal and Derngate, Northampton, 11th November 2021

SarahMillican_BobbyDazzlerShe may be from South Shields, but I think we should welcome Sarah Millican in as one of Northampton’s adopted daughters, as her Bobby Dazzler show last night was the first of three that she will be performing at the Royal and Derngate (18th and 21st November shows still to come) as well as having had a couple of secret gigs in their Underground studio to hone the show into perfection as Work in Progress nights. Much more of this and she’ll be supporting the Cobblers and pronouncing Cogenhoe correctly.

Gearoid FarrellyShe came on to do a little welcoming warm up before introducing her support act, Gearoid Farrelly. A name new to us, he’s a cheeky chap from the Emerald Isle, with a confiding style and ebullient personality, who spun some entertaining tales of seeing Shania Twain in Dublin (not to be recommended apparently, although primarily not because of Shania Twain) and how a gay man’s insecurities come to the fore when having to deal with a “real man” in a DIY store. Good delivery, heaps of confidence and he did a great job.

Sarah MillicanWhen Sarah Millican returned she encountered a bit of a problem – a loud, drunken woman in the upper boxes who had no compunction about constantly engaging in conversation with her. Not a heckle, nothing spiteful, but an absolute bloody nuisance. Several times she stopped Ms Millican in her flow and it really sapped the energy of the audience and made us feel uncomfortable. She wasn’t deterred by Sarah’s put-downs or admonitions, but, fortunately, she was eventually encouraged to sober up somewhere outside (preferably at home) – pity that didn’t happen sooner rather than later.

Sarah MillicanOnce that was out of the way, it left Sarah Millican free rein to discuss all her favourite usual topics – the things that happen to a woman in her mid-40s, interaction (both domestic and romantic) with her husband, fondness for confectionary self-indulgence, and the confidence to be herself, which she transmits to the audience, boosting our self-confidence too.

Sarah MThere’s probably no other comic in the world who’s so comfortable discussing the most private aspects of the human body – especially the female of the species. We’ve all got bodies, we’ve all got bits and bobs of various shapes and sizes, and Sarah Millican has no inhibitions when it comes to using them as items of mirth. Not content with leaving it there, she lingers over the smells, textures and general misfunctions that flesh is undoubtedly heir to. As a result, her material reflects everyone’s experience, and the laughter she creates is that of personal recognition. No human condition is out of bounds, resulting in the laughter frequently extending into groans of delighted disgust and general ewww, while Ms Millican, her face a picture of innocence, waits for us to regain our composure.

Sarah MillicanThe show is precisely scripted, with well-planned callbacks and deft use of mots justes, all apart from one section, where she invites the audience to share their moments of pandemic madness. One woman learned how to sew; another slung her husband out of the house. But my favourite was the man who chucked his job in as an operations director because after three and a half months he still didn’t understand what the job meant, and went back to his old job – as an operations manager. We also learned about Sarah Millican’s special and perhaps tongue-in-cheek involvement with the Couch to 5K App – and what it would be like to have yourself spur you on with faux-encouragement.

A hugely enjoyable comedy night out in a pair of the safest hands in the business. Sarah Millican’s tour continues right the way round to December 2022, would you believe, but I’d get in there quick with your booking if I were you!

Review – Sarah Millican, Outsider, Royal and Derngate, Northampton, 2nd July 2016

Sarah MillicanWe’re lucky enough to see a lot of comedy but it’s not often we go back to see big names a second time because once is generally enough to know whether you like them and whether they make you laugh. Of course, you might want to go back and see them again sometime in the future, just not too quickly – it keeps things varied and interesting that way. However, there are a few notable exceptions where we will always book to see their latest show: Dara O’Briain, Julian Clary, and now Sarah Millican.

Ms Millican commands the box office with a ferocious loyalty that I can’t see with any other comedian. Not only did I have to book those tickets over a year ago – 26th March 2015 to be exact – but demand for her performance has resulted in her doing three shows over three consecutive nights. That’s some demand. What is it about her that makes her so popular?

Sarah MShe’s tremendously funny, that’s what. From the moment she comes on stage till the moment she leaves, you’re aching with laughter. What I particularly like about her style is that you get the sense that everything she tells you is 100% true. She would be the most effective politician if she wanted, and you’d never need to vote her out because she would simply never lie. She also, bravely, shares fairly intimate personal details; from the reason why she never uses bath crystals to the catastrophic nature of her Irritable Bowel Syndrome farts. If you’re looking for someone demure and tasteful, you’ve probably come to the wrong place.

Unusually she started off the show by coming on, giving us about ten minutes of introductory hilarity, and then handing over to her warmup act. In a sense, that meant that she was acting as his warmup, which, when you think about it, is remarkably generous! As a result, we were well and truly warmed up already, which actually meant that we could really enjoy our twenty minutes with Geoff Norcott. Mr Norcott comes over as a truly affable bloke, with great comic observations about married life, teetering girls in high heels and the civil war between the old and the young. He gained an instant rapport with the audience and he went down extremely well.

Geoff NorcottSarah Millican is certainly enraptured by the animal kingdom and gets a lot of excellent comic material from stories about her pets. She extends the conversation to getting the audience to call out any great sights in nature that any of us had seen. This is obviously a device that works well, for when we last saw her she wanted our suggestions for what you would take with you for a dirty weekend. This time round, I’m not sure our audience was quite as much at one with nature as Ms Millican might have hoped, but at least one chap said he’d seen a squirrel eating a KitKat.

After the interval, we were treated to more ace routines including the sheer horror of undergoing one of those “relaxing” spa massages, which resonated loudly with Mrs Chrisparkle’s and my one-and-only experience of an expensive, side-by-side, relaxing full body massage which was one of the most stressful things we’ve ever endured. But the main element of the second half is the most superb example of revenge being a dish best served cold that you’ve ever heard. There’s nothing quite so sweet in life as that moment when you know you’ve got your own back on a bully. I’ll say no more – except that it’s toe-curlingly divine.

S MillicanAt the end you could collect your free badge – to add to your collection of Sarah Millican free badges. You could be a flower or a pet, depending on your personal assessment of how needy or otherwise you are. I chose to be a flower – but the queue to collect it was vast, so I will just continue to be a flower in my own mind’s eye. She had the entire full house in hysterics for the best part of two and a half hours. Mrs C was literally crying – and she doesn’t do that very often, at least over comedy. Sarah Millican’s tour continues right through to September but you have to be very quick to secure a ticket. She’s great though, so you really should!!

Review – Sarah Millican, Home Bird Tour, Derngate, Northampton, 26th February 2014

Home BirdSarah Millican is yet another big name comedian that Mrs Chrisparkle and I don’t really know very well, although I have seen her on television a few times and thought that she came over as a very cheery and cheeky Geordie lass who told it like it is. She certainly knows how to attract the punters as I don’t think there was a spare seat in the house and we had to book our tickets a year and a half ago. That’s some fan base she’s got there.

Sarah MillicanShe presents her act in a simple, straightforward way; no supporting performer, no light show, no comedy songs, just Ms Millican centre stage with a stand-up mike and a bottle of water. And, my word, can she make you laugh. She has a delightful mix of self-deprecation and assertiveness that occasionally tumbles into aggression, mainly if there’s the threat of removal of food. She’s extremely talkative; she’s not one of those comics who will go any length of time with some physical mime comedy – you sense she’s the kind of person who couldn’t let a silence go without filling it with speech. So her stories and material are delicately put together and highly structured, and delivered to a set pattern that probably changes very little from gig to gig. My guess is that she’s honed the act to perfection, and she’s not going to stray much from the template.

S MillicanBut that’s fine, because her material is absolutely first rate. The basis of the show is about being a Home Bird – after many years of renting and flat dwelling she has decided to buy a house, and she’s got lots of great material about viewing houses, the responsibilities of house ownership, what sheds are for, and so on. But this is just a springboard for all sorts of general comic observations. She takes on all the things that happen within a relationship and teases the humour out of those situations, with, I would expect, no subject taboo. To look at, she seems like a nice, respectable lady – possibly a schoolmistress or a doctor’s receptionist, or something similar; and then she will shock you with a discussion of how lady parts change colour with age or how you can’t talk to your mother without needing to poo. She also swears quite a lot, which can take you by surprise if you’re not expecting it.

In many respects she reminded me of Victoria Wood in the 1980s, when she was at the top of her game. With sharp, knowing material, she is confidingly northern about the intimacies of everyday life, how to cope with a husband and parents, birthday treats, clothes shopping (a lot of nice material – if you’ll pardon the pun – about how pyjamas are now lounge leisurewear), her affinity with cats, and so on. She has Ms Wood’s ability to make you recognise those little moments we all experience and blow them up into major comic events.

Sarah MShe breaks off every so often to get feedback from various sections of the audience on a hot topic. The first hot topic was how to deal with half-live half-dead furry animals that your cat drags in; the second was what items you would choose to take with you on a dirty weekend. I guess breaking off like this gives her vocal cords a small chance to regroup every so often – because she really is very talkative indeed – but it also gives her a chance to come back with some great reactions to the suggestions shouted out by the crowd. Quite a risky strategy I suppose, but a challenge to which she is certainly capable. Many of the comments shouted back out to her were pretty inventive too! It also added a personal touch to her material, giving us all a chance for a little two-way banter.

She told us that when we left the auditorium we could collect a free badge, saying either “Home Bird”, or “Dirty Stop Out”. I’ll leave it to your imagination which one I took. A really well-structured and funny evening with someone who is 100% in charge of her talent; a true masterclass in stand-up. She’s touring until May but my guess is that if you haven’t already booked, you’re probably too late.