Reviewed by Kathryn Carr
I love going to see comedians and after several visits to see a number of my favourites, it’s become apparent I’m not one to laugh out loud. I’m more of a smiler; a silent, shoulder shaker. At least I thought I was until I went to see Tim Vine at Salford Quays’ Lowry on his Sunset Milk Idiot tour. The noise I emitted surprised both me and my other half, with Tim’s quick-fire jokes evoking loud, quick-fire laughter from an audience member who’s normally pretty quiet. Guffaws. Giggles. Groans. Tim Vine and his clever one-liners had me vocal. Corny puns and dare I say it, ‘Dad jokes’, are clearly my kind of comedy.
As Tim bounded onto the stage wearing an ice-cream hat, launching into a round of matching, short, family-friendly gags, all I could think of was how funny my three-year old daughter would find this almost cartoon-like comedian. I couldn’t believe just how hilarious I was finding a performance that wouldn’t go amiss at a kids’ birthday party. I’d describe his routine as silly, daft and cheesy – everything a child would love. Yet at the same time, it’s all very clever. The wordplay is inspired. You know that every joke is going somewhere completely obvious but you’ll rarely guess where and that’s what makes Tim’s act so special. He writes jokes that everyone will get, but certainly not everyone could think up.
What’s different about Tim is that unlike many other comedians, he doesn’t rely on stories derived from everyday observation. The gags aren’t the familiar insight into daily routine just good old-fashioned jokes with an injection of modern life. Retro yet refreshing.
Tim’s handmade props and ditties straight from the playground could be deemed childish yet they’re cleverly and carefully crafted and guaranteed to get a laugh (usually accompanied with a roll of the eyes). Tim is a ball of energy, slightly reminiscent of an enthusiastic Red Coat with a hint of Circus Clown. His aim clearly isn’t to be on trend, just to make his audience laugh, and laugh again at their frustration of laughing at such sigh-inducing jokes. His fantastic writing combined with his impeccable timing and strangely compelling physicality, make for a winning, whirlwind of a show.
I must admit I was left baffled by one or two of his absurd songs, (requiring full audience participation) which acted as interludes in his non-stop gag after gag routine, but nonetheless I was compelled to join in and laugh despite the ridiculousness of it all.
I appreciated every single joke, yet ask me to repeat one and I’ll struggle to deliver. Memory. That’s what stood out for me. Tim’s memory. He doesn’t tell stories, he tells one-liners, one after another, after another. How he remembers what’s next is a feat in itself. A few times he almost caught me out – me thinking he’d messed up, his dithering being part of the joke all along. He knows how to gauge and work his audience. Tim Vine is a master in his art; no wonder he’s well-known for winning best joke at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Crazy, Corny, Cracking. This show is puntastic!
I must give a special mention to Tim’s warm-up act John Archer. John is a comedian come magician. His half-hour act is somewhat old school but certainly very entertaining. With many a laugh at the audience’s expense, his two tricks are certainly crowd pleasers. I’ve no idea how he produced a winning lottery ticket and made his orange juice disappear and I’ll be pondering for a while. Mixing magic with jokes and a ukulele made for a winning combination and a calm yet comical start to a marvellously manic evening.
The Lowry is a superb arts venue, conveniently located in the North-West. There’s lots on offer for all the family, from comedians and theatre productions to dance workshops and exhibitions. There’s always a lovely atmosphere with all the staff (many who are volunteers), friendly and happy to help. The onsite bar and restaurant offer a variety of tasty treats with special deals and there’s also a number of popular chain restaurants in the immediate vicinity. With a multi-storey car park right next door, you don’t have to worry about finding a space.
Tim Vine: Sunset Milk Idiot is at The Lowry in Manchester from 16-17 October 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.thelowry.com or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000