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Jack Whitehall struggles to get going at Arena Birmingham - review

By Keri Trigg | Birmingham | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

The foundations on which Jack Whitehall builds every routine he’s ever done are his own poshness, and funny things his dad does.

Jack Whitehall was performing at Birmingham Arena

His latest arena tour, Stood Up, is no different, but this time it does not get much further off the ground.

Don’t get me wrong, the predictable gags are predictably funny, and as usual it is Whitehall’s characteristic flamboyance that he leans on to elevate his superficial material.

He knows how to work a stage and goes to town with acted-out sets on "thumbing in" Brexit and attempting to take a very personal photograph to send his doctor when struck down with an Embarrassing Bodies-type condition while overseas.

The show offers little by way of original observations, with vegans and their abundance of milk alternatives - "12 varieties is 11 too many" - offering easy picking.

The usual location-tailored jokes are always a crowd pleaser, and the Birmingham Arena audience laps up a one-liner on Whitehall’s outreach work in the Black Country for Comic Relief.

There was an expectation that the recent break-up of his six-year relationship with actress Gemma Chan would have been a gold mine of new material, but he doesn’t dig too far. Maybe he’s not over it yet.

The mini pantomime of a crescendo falls flat despite having all the ingredients of a showstopper finale. Everyone fake-laughs along, but he may as well have just announced he couldn’t come up with another 10 minutes of fart jokes and saved the money on the extravagant production.

In all, everything comes back to his upbringing - cue the "what goes on at boarding school" gags and the oh-so-hilarious mispronunciation of budget shops - and his father, Michael.

The absence of Whitehall Sr is felt not just through his frequent appearances in his son’s material, but by the fact that they have almost become a double act now, and Jack is less funny without him.

Keri Trigg

By Keri Trigg
Reporter - @KeriTrigg_Star

Senior reporter covering Shrewsbury and South Shropshire for the Shropshire Star.

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