Bill Bailey, best known to me as the hapless, though eccentrically intelligent bookshop employee in ‘Black Books’, took to the stage in the O2 in Dublin last week, for 2 nights. We went on the Friday night, 1st October.
He was so relaxed on stage, a considerable feat in itself, when he was tasked with making some 10,000 people laugh. His ease on stage made him a pleasure to watch, and his ability to improvise was apparent, as he took audience heckles and worked them seamlessly into his routine. However, the general outline of the show was intact, as seen by the preparation of video footage, and sound bytes that were used intermittently. Music too played a large part in the show, and his talent and obvious interest in quirky instruments was highlighted and used to effect. In fact, the ‘oud’, became part of an audience chant, which Bailey encouraged and took advantage of, and it was the most effective encore call, as he came back on stage at least 4 times.
The general theme of the show was difficult to pinpoint, but uncertainty seemed to crop up frequently, with a whole section devoted to an exposé of pictures by famous artists depicting the ‘doubting Thomas’. Each of these were shamelessly derided, but to great comic effect. Knowledge of the subject is a prerequisite to building comedy around it, and here Bailey’s intelligence was evident.
Like any good comedian, he makes observations of daily life, things accepted without question by the normal ‘Joe Soap’, and highlights their ridiculousness, eg that joggers are always the ones to find bodies (curious!), but Bailey goes further and follows through on his most bizarre imaginings, from glimpses of pixie-like people with loudspeakers inside Tesco’s self-service checkouts, calling up “Please remove this item from the bagging area”, to eating a packet of Revels from a bucket, to provide a greater challenge in identifying the type of Revel you are eating!! He also focuses a lot on stereotypes, poking fun at the difference between dealing with French and German electricity supply companies, the lassitude of the French (being put on hold to ‘Non, je ne regretted rien’), to the stinginess of the Germans, (as he feigned pathetically begging for electricity, for “die kinders”, which provoked the decisive response ’Nein’, with a stamp of the foot, for effect). He also takes apart the Australian phrase ‘too easy’, and wittily on how this can come across as insulting to the unwitting Englishman, requesting a simple favour.
His own honesty was very charming, and he spoke of his son, and how he would shuffle him along to school, disorganised as anything, with disapproving looks from the ‘Oh so perfect’ parents with all their books covered, pencils sharpened and healthy foil-packed lunches.
His use of lighting was very original, and this artistic leaning was also seen in his piecing together of internet and computer signs and symbols to make a song, commentating on the computer as the means of modern-day communication. (^_^) lol. Plus transport got a mention more than once, from bikes made out of wagon wheels and chocolate fingers, to Gary Numan cars with French musical horns.
All in all, a very inventive show!! First time in the O2 also, and it was a good venue, the use of screens providing quite a good view to those further back.