An evening with Arthur Smith is like pulling on a slightly tattered but favourite old jumper: warming, reassuring, but about as far from daring as you can get.
Bringing his avuncular style of comedy to a nearly sold out Norwich Playhouse, one might have expected the buzz to have generated some new material but – other than reading out a couple of stories from the EDP, which apparently gave him his first review – this was familiar stuff.
Presented in a drifting and ramshackle style, Smith stumbled between observational comedy, memoirs and bad “Doctor, doctor” jokes. And the audience loved it.
One row of the theatre was taken up with a group of near-retirement professionals celebrating a friend’s birthday, another with young bucks barely out of university; the common factors being the both lapped up the show and, it seems, were as well lubricated as you might expect on a Saturday night.
The jokes showed their age – even Smith admitted that a reference to the Marathon chocolate bar was more than 20 years out of date – but it really didn’t matter. There’s something about Smith as a raconteur that means he can get away with it.
The risk though, is that like that old jumper, the charm starts wearing thin.