Sir Ken Dodd, Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton - review
Sir Ken Dodd promised an audience in Wolverhampton an experience akin to a ‘hostage situation’ and certainly delivered during a quite remarkable five-hour show which had plenty of ups, downs and everything in between.
The term 'veteran' simply doesn’t do the iconic entertainer, who turned 90 last month, justice.
He is nothing short of a comedy phenomenon whose lengthy routines have become the stuff of legend on the stand-up circuit; if only for the fact they are feats of endurance in themselves – for both Dodd and his fans.
No more than 15 minutes after than the doors opened at the Wulfrun Hall, the Liverpool funnyman was on stage delivering his razor sharp one-liners.
“I had to take my dog to obedience class – but he wouldn’t go," was one example.
The 200-strong audience was in the palm of his hand from the get-go.
And before long, he was into his first Elvis song and getting the crowd to sing along.
With his unwieldy hair, his two ‘tickling sticks’ never far away, garish white jacket, red shirt and tie – one of several gaudy costumes on the night – this was vintage Ken Dodd.
The first segment was certainly the best and the gags came thick and fast.
“Statistics have shown that 50 per cent of this audience are optimists – those are the ones who have booked taxis for 12.20am,” quipped the star.
But, as it turned out, that wasn’t so much a punchline as it was a prophecy.
Mercilessly as the hours rolled on, the routine was broken up by entertaining performances from musical duo Andante, Welsh opera singer Sioned Terry and talented juggler Steve Arnold. It harked back to those classic variety shows of a bygone era before the likes of shows such as Britain’s Got Talent arrived to resurrect the formula.
Dodd returned to the stage but, it has to be said, it was mostly downhill from there.
The short sharp gags appeared to dry up while the more lengthy, anecdotal jokes occasionally descended into senseless ramblings.
The stalwart comic began to rely much more heavily on audience interaction and after a while, it became a little trying. Julie from Chester will likely think twice before buying a front row ticket to a comedy show again.
Nevertheless, the odd joke still managed to hit the spot with rapturous applause from the audience. But by that point it was getting all too late in the night for some, who decided they could last the endurance test no more and left.
As the show entered the home straight it became clear that Dodd just didn’t want to leave the stage.
It wasn’t a case of him milking the spotlight, however. It was simply a man still in love with his trade and very much enjoying the profession he has practised for more than half a century.
Dodd is known as the last great music hall entertainer. It’s obvious he is not yet ready to hang up the microphone. And judging by the standing ovation he was afforded at the end of the night, his fans aren’t ready for him to either.