It’s unlikely that the name Philip Hollobone will ever elicit such a large cheer as the one it received at the opening of the second half of Ivo Graham’s Norwich gig.
The Tory MP for Kettering is an unlikely punchline but, coming as part of a sweet one-two from the posh comic as he continued a running gag from his opening audience interaction, it received easily the biggest cheer of the night.
It was when riffing with the sell-out crowd that Graham was at his strongest. Whether talking about comedy socks, staging an impromptu quiz about Acle, or the unflattering decision of a member of the front row to neck an energy drink to make sure they stayed awake, Graham cut an affable figure, over-delighting the packed Norwich Playhouse.
His planned material – his Eton school days, his sex tour of Swindon, and current rapidly advancing relationship – felt slightly stretched by comparison: funny but too circuitous in delivery.
His manner exemplifies British self-effacement; his hand apologetically covers his mouth for a good chunk of the show. As a result he never quite reaches the pitch you sense he is capable of, if only he pushed himself to up the pace. As he quotes his own father in a different context: “You’ve got to really want it”.