Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer
Another assured performance from the ‘Wild Man of Comedy’, who delivers traditional and entertaining stand-up as well as any.
Amidst all the performance pieces about depression, political comedies about Brexit and surrealist creations about a half-pig, half-rabbit haunted by a zombie Beatrix Potter, there’s a time and a place for more traditional, escapist stand-up. And if that’s what you’re after, Craig Campbell’s the man.
After moving to the UK from Canada 16 years ago, the so-called ‘Wild Man of Comedy’ has our measure. He readily points out Britain’s faults while – at the same time – showing affection for them. Early in the show, he launches a tirade against our habit of closing coffee shops at 6pm, and sometimes even earlier thanks to surly servers. He fumes at the hypocrisy of letting people knock back hard liquor from midday but, unlike most of the world, preventing adults sipping milky caffeine after work. As his ire increases, Campbell suddenly laughs and turns the gaze on himself. “Still,” he says quietly, twitching from his rant. “I’m a walking, talking advert for why you people ban coffee after 6.”
That typifies Campbell’s style: a neat form of pointed observational comedy usually tapered by acknowledging his own flaws. Such as when he brands Dr Hook ‘a charlatan’ for touring without the original Medicine Men, before sheepishly realising they’d all died.
Or when he labels Russian border police ‘heavy-handed’, before accepting that travelling is always fraught “looking like this” – this being a taller, more outdoorsy, less harassy Justin Lee Collins. “Whenever I reach a checkpoint,” he admits, “it’s become less a case of ‘I’m not looking forward to this’ than ‘Can I at least keep the watch?'”
The only criticism you could level at Campbell is that he’s not overly innovative and sometimes relies on old material for laughs (for example, the gag about the Dutch at 6.35 of this funny 1999 video still gets used). But that’s churlish and understates his abilities as an improviser, mingling easily with the crowd pre-show, and dealing sharply or compassionately with hecklers as required.
This skill makes him perfect for a late night slot in a relaxed environment such as The Stand. If you get the chance to see him in this habitat, you’re assured of a good night out.
Craig Campbell is performing Easy Tiger at 22.00 at The Stand until 28th August. For tickets, head here. For details of future shows, check out Craig’s official website or follow him @MooseFucker on Twitter.