Reviews, Stage

Sean Lock at Derby Live’s Assembly Rooms

Described by Ricky Gervais as one of the most influential British stand-ups of the past 10 years, Sean Lock made his stage debut over fifteen years ago and has since toured the festival circuits and of course, now regularly appears as a team captain on Channel 4’s 8 out of 10 Cats. We saw him at Derby Live’s Assembly Rooms on Saturday night for his new Purple Van Man stand-up show.

Sean’s entrance on stage was cool and understated; opening with a sarcastic self effacing smile and an awkward silence after he says hello, leading to a few awkward audience laughs. He begins by telling us how thrilled he is to be in Derby: when he found out he was performing here, they had to “peel him off the ceiling with a rake.” Brilliant Lock sarcasm. After a bit of audience banter and observations on Derby’s hostility to “poncy flowery shirted London types” and a “love of big tellies” (“does the Mayor own a massive remote for it?”) he moved on from his improv into the act.

Sean’s surreal observations on the everyday mundane aspects of our lives and human relationships never fail to delight me. His delivery alternates between deadpan sarcasm and wild childish outbursts of enthusiasm when he speaks of one of his ideas to improve the world.

The theme of the show was his manifesto to make the world a better place and one of his ideas included getting rid of public schools. He observed the fact that we don’t tolerate cheating in sports, so starting life by going to Eton is like being dipped in a bath of steroids, and if life is a competition (which it is) then public school is like being given a Ferrari in the 100 metre sprint, while going to state school is like being fired out of a canon.. .away from the finish line. Massive lefty laughs from the audience erupt.

His other ideas to improve the world include an app that tells you what day the bins are collected wherever you are in the world and an app that knows when you are watching porn on your mobile then notifies everyone in your contact list. He also advocated living in a world where the only form of advertising allowed is door to door, which would mean Keira Knightley knocking on your door selling Chanel.

The audience reaction in Derby Assembly Rooms was mixed. Sean did say during Act I that if you feel like something is just slightly funny, feel free to laugh, because as an audience member it’s no big deal if a joke doesn’t work, you can see other shows, have other laughs. However, it’s much more serious for the comedian when bad reviews could mean winding up on some reality show with “famous” people you’ve never heard of.

A couple of times I had people turn round and look at me and my other half for laughing so much, but we felt the rest of the audience were enjoying it too. However, Sean’s deadpan humour and imaginative observations perhaps didn’t appeal to all Derby folk as there were some very still audience members who didn’t even elicit a reaction from the reverse centaur spectacle.

My face and stomach still both ache from laughing which is the aim of a great stand-up show isn’t it?

Sean Lock is on tour until September and you can catch him in in the Midlands this week: Coventry’s Warwick Arts Centre this Thursday 9th May or Friday 10th – Saturday 11th May at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

Illustration by Mair Perkins Ltd.

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