Comedy gigs can be quite different things nowadays. In the past a comedian might rock up in the afternoon, pick up an Evening News, scan for a few local funnies and chuck them in at the beginning to make it seem like they cared about each stop on their deadening 147-night tour.
Thanks to the advent of Twitter, that approach can rock up to a whole new level – and in the hands of someone like Adam Hills, who exhibits real affection and warmth for his audience, it can result in something genuinely uplifting.
Even before arriving at the sold-out Theatre Royal, Hills was at work helping out a fan running late for the gig, responding to medical student Sam Brabazon’s query whether he wanted anything from Tesco, and identifying first-time gig goer Lyndsey – all of whom later got folded in to the show.
Once there, several audience members were quickly up on stage for a tweeted pic of the “new Marvel super heros line up” and a daughter left behind at home got to speak to Hills on stage and then watch the remainder of the show via her mum’s phone. A parody Ladybird book on hangovers got tossed up in to the circle after audience member Danny Gap asked on social media if he could borrow it, asking “where’s the bacon?”
There wasn’t much in the way of traditional stand up, though Hills did talk movingly and hilariously about his family relationships including with his daughters, his wife, and his own dad; and his experiences of having a prosthetic foot; and the remarkable achievements of an armless Paralympic swimmer. His impression of fellow The Last Leg host Josh Widdecombe saying “Pret A Manger” also got three increasingly big laughs.
This was as much variety show as comedy with Hills at the heart as a very lovable raconteur weaving a very modern mix of stories, creating a positive and life-affirming whole (even when often talking about death).
The standing ovation and the lengthy queues at the end to donate to his collection for the Big C said it all: we loved every minute of it.