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The Lowry Theatre of Salford Quays plays host to all sorts of performances from ballets to pantomimes. It stands proud as one of the biggest homes of innovation and any regular visitor would tell you in confidence that there’s not many types of artwork that haven’t hit its prestigious stage. However, there is one thing that it wasn’t so used to welcoming – the sparkling comedy of one very angry Welshman.
Rhod Gilbert has risen very speedily to fame over the past two or three years from short appearances on Mock the Week and Live at the Apollo to producing two of his own stand up shows, both of which have been phenomenally successful. Tonight Gilbert performed his third stand up show “The Man with the Flaming Batternburg Tattoo” which followed his work experience series on the BBC where he took various roles including a hairdresser, fire-fighter and most relevantly to this performance, a tattoo artist. After some brilliant yet slightly dragged out audience interaction to begin the show, Gilbert proceeded to tell us the story of how the most ridiculous tattoo changed his life, along with his experiences in anger management.
Despite the fact the first half took a while to get going, Gilbert no doubt proved that that was just the calm before the storm. Once he threw in his classic rant about an overly technical Oral B toothbrush and the somewhat unique stupidity of an electrician, the crowd’s laughter was unstoppable. His ability to turn such trivial everyday experiences into the most hilariously dramatic stories really made his performance come to life and at the same time as purely being entertained by him, you couldn’t help but appreciate how clever his work was. At points he perhaps went off on too many tangents, but like any experienced comedian, he was always able to link up stories and bring back jokes he’d made at the beginning of the show in a rant that he decided to have an hour later. The running theme of his inability to cope with the questions that an anger management course decided to throw at him gave his performance some real structure and because of this the tangents he went off on didn’t really matter – and at the end of the day it’s these hilarious deviations that separate Gilbert from the rest.
The second half brought more of the same lengthy rants, this time about the packaging of potatoes and train travel -which again may sound very boring – but that’s why Rhod is here; to colour these grey areas of life. A stand up of course would be incomplete without a comedian completely taking the piss out of themselves and in this half Gilbert made sure this happened by informing us of the time when he was watching the riots of 2011 on TV, his anger was focused upon his inability to open a sandwich packet. He may well think that he should get angrier about less trivial things but the crowd thought quite differently and it’s his attitude that really makes life seem simpler and much more entertaining than any of us could’ve imagined. Even when things got a bit emotional for Gilbert towards the end of the show, when talking about how his relationship fell apart, he managed to brighten this up too with a video of him going to New York with the unpackaged potato he so longingly desired.
Rhod Gilbert certainly had the effect on everyone that a comedian should have; that is, when the crowd leave they look at life much more positively despite the feeling of perhaps needing a new stomach because they’ve laughed so hard. There were times when he took a while to get to the point and on the whole it was expected that the tattoo would be more of a central topic but the beauty of Rhod’s work is that it doesn’t need a central topic. It’s his dramatic stories about things that usually seem insignificant and that fact that he goes off on utterly random tangents that make him special and his stunning performance was a reminder that anything can create laughter. With a chance to meet him and receive an autograph at the end, it’s safe to say the crowd headed home more than satisfied with one of the most energetic of performances The Lowry stage will ever see.