Rob Bry­don

Ayles­bury Wa­ter­side On tour till Oct 10, 2018

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - THEATRE - Mark Ware­ham

Rob Bry­don came to stand-up via TV. Af­ter spend­ing years scrap­ping about in cult come­dies, the main­stream Gavin & Stacey pro­pelled him stage­wards, first at the Ed­in­burgh Fringe in char­ac­ter com­edy be­fore fi­nally tour­ing in 2009 as his ac­tual self.

In the in­terim his stock has risen con­sid­er­ably with the panel show Would I Lie To You?, ten years old and still con­sis­tently bril­liant, as well as three se­ries of The Trip with Steve Coogan, in which the pair bicker their way around gas­tro-tours of Bri­tain/Italy/Spain while hav­ing end­less ‘Caine-offs’ to see whose impressions hit hard­est. This lat­est tour makes you won­der why he left it eight years to go back on the road. Bry­don is about as nat­u­ral as it’s pos­si­ble to be on stage, riff­ing with his crowd of old­timers as if they were in his liv­ing room and ef­fort­lessly im­pro-weav­ing his cast of crum­blies into his rou­tines, and even a song. His su­perb impressions are by no means the main­stay of the show and are of­ten in­ge­niously min­i­mal­ist – just a har­rumph of a throat­clear­ance is enough to sig­nal Tom Jones, while a con­sti­pated grunt in­di­cates Mick Jag­ger is in the house – and he earns a fourth star alone for not do­ing Ron­nie Cor­bett, pos­si­bly be­cause he’s (over)done him so much he now ac­tu­ally sounds like him, even when he’s ‘off’. Per­haps the apoth­e­o­sis of his reper­toire is his take-off of Ra­dio 2 DJ Ken Bruce, the per­fect de­mo­graphic tar­get for this Ayles­bury au­di­ence of mid- to late-lif­ers.

On the day that Coogan won a six-fig­ure set­tle­ment in phone-hack­ing dam­ages, a sharp punter chal­lenged Bry­don over his fi­nan­cial in­fe­ri­or­ity to Coogan (£3m com­pared to £9m, he said), only for Bry­don to hit back with ‘I have five kids, he only has one’. Clas­sic Bry­don. Still out­smart­ing his impressions neme­sis even when he’s not in the room. Back of the net.

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