Justin Moorhouse has entered the sixth decade of his life and at 52 has noticed friends and people he’s known for a long time doing things as older people that seem strange and indicative of a mid-life crisis.
The star of Phoenix Nights and BBC Five Live’s Fighting Talk was at the Gatehouse Theatre in Stafford as part of his Stretch and Think tour to talk about getting older and the absurdities he has noticed along the way.
Justin opened the evening with a short set that allowed him to chat with everyone in the front row and riff about their jobs, such as the man who sold solar panels and a couple who had gone to Stafford to attend the cat show and then looked for something to do in town and found out he was there.
He also joked about how when he was in lockdown during the Covid pandemic, he would think about live gigs and always had a funny feeling when he thought of Stafford, saying there was always a weirdness to the gigs there.
He then introduced his support act Jim Burke, who continued the middle-aged theme of the evening with topics such as the differences between himself as an 18-year-old and a 59-year-old and feeling unnerved during a prostate examination when the song “Sweetest Feeling” by Jackie Wilson starting playing.
He joked that as a Glaswegian, he’d be getting a telegram from the King to celebrate his 60th birthday, and how he hated living in Leeds, saying that the area next to where he lived was like bandit country, somewhere where you don’t know where the meat in the meat raffle has come from and why it has a Leeds United tattoo.
After a brief interval, Justin Moorhouse returned for the main set, which was a tour-de-force of his thoughts about getting older, looking at the ways people viewed religion, the royal family, presidents and leaders and how they look at things getting older.
Chatty, quick and very fast with a quip, Justin had the room rocking with laughter as he spoke about a friend he’d know since school suddenly taking up and interest in cycling, including full details of his friend squeezing into lycra for the first time.
He even dealt with a person heckling from the back of the room, putting him in his place with putdowns and jokes about his ill-fitting clothes that had people laughing with him.
The conversation over age was the main thrust of the show, with Justin saying that any man who was middle-aged and thought they were still vital should stop it now and admit it’s over and they are no longer the hunter gatherer.
That led to a vivid and very funny thread about conception and birth, before suddenly heading off to dogs and the different breeds you can get these days, with one of the funniest bits being the police dogs all getting back together and one being a grizzled search dog, another being a perky and loud drug squad dog and the last one being a fireworks dog who jumps every time a door closes.
The last bit of the show focussed on Justin’s dad and his last moments which, taken out of context, would be very sad to hear, but Justin told a story about being at his deathbed and how the conversation turned to food and them going to a meal right after his father died which brought one more round of raucous laughter.
The show was a wonderful way to examine middle-age and how middle-aged men and women act and Justin Moorhouse might just be one of the best people to describe it.