Bill Bailey @ The Famous Spiegeltent
8:30pm, Tue 19 Feb 2002
Short Review: Good Start
Bill Bailey came out and promised a slow start to the show. That’s exactly what we got. The first 10 minutes of his act were a ramshackle, bumbling mess that, whilst entertaining, is not exactly what one shells out $30 for. Almost begging for the audience to heckle him, he finally got the fuel he needed to kick into his act from the two Welsh girls sitting next to me, who criticised him for not being factually accurate.
And then he was off – stop-startish, he would embark on long, twisted rambles (such as his interpretation of Stephen Hawking’s works), then jump behind the keyboards for a bit, then back in front of the mike for another banter with the audience.
Bill Bailey called himself a “cynical optimist”, and also a “relaxed empiricist”. His odes to Billy Bragg and Chris de Burgh were great – especially the latter, which started in a very de Burgh-ish vein and degenerated into quite a hateful little anti-ugly women “love song”. In fact, all his musical tomfoolery worked a treat – whether keyboards, guitaror kazoo, his playing was excellent, and piss funny to boot – the comparison of the police sirens of different countries was brilliant.
Bailey also stitched up Germans (for being too precise) and the Dutch (for being too laid back), but saved his most amusing abuse for the British – for being “satisfied with being mildly disappointed”. This was a common theme throughout the show – apt, given the plentitude of posters around the city claiming that Bailey is “the finest stand-up comedian this country has to offer”.
It’s not that this was a bad show – on the contrary, I laughed my arse off at times. The set closer, in particular, was one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard (it’s just a pity he came out to do an encore, hence ruining the impact). However, this is the yardstick show of my ff2002 campaign; and I certainly hope I see better, especially at the price.