Micky Flanagan: Portsmouth Guildhall – live comedy review

Micky Flanagan: The Back In The Game Tour
Portsmouth Guildhall
2nd Oct 2013

In the first of a short series Ged Babey has a go at reviewing some live comedy shows for LTW, from his own punk-rock perspective. Micky Flanagan is one of the UK’s most popular new standups and his Back In The Game tour stopped at Pompey before two Wembley Arena dates.

It has perhaps become a tedious cliche drawing parallels between the Alternative Comedy of the 80’s and Punk Rock … but in the same way as the germ of punk attitude survives in certain musical artistes today, the same must be true of today’s comedians….surely.

Frankie Boyle, Mark Thomas and Stewart Lee for starters are the comedy equivalents of the Exploited, Billy Bragg and the Fall respectively, in my book.

That posh prick who is forever on the tele is of course the equivalent of Mumford & Sons, and Micky Flanagan – new geezer on the block? The chirpy , cheeky, cockernee? Well, a musical equivalent is not so obvious. He is hugely popular though and you can see why. He is the archetype Bloke Down the Pub. His stories revolve around family, drinking, wanking, everyday stuff and he has a distinctive voice and is a funny looking bugger. There is a bit of Sid James and a bit of Tommy Cooper about him to make his recollections of a Seventies childhood even more appealing to those of us in his age group. Given time he could end up being our generation’s Hancock.


Doing two hours with a half an hour break in between meant he was pretty good value but, I couldn’t help notice that people arriving late, and there were a few of us due to traffic chaos, were not singled out with impromptu ad libs like most comedians would … Micky stuck to the script. Audience interaction was kept to an absolute minimum. I expected a bit of improvised ad libbing making it more than just a run through for the next DVD and the set didn’t build to an obvious climax other than the domestic dispute with his girlfriend (who has feet like a chimpanzee) putting him in the doghouse but which he got away with due to it coinciding with 9-11. “Puts fings in perspective dunnit? Back In the Game!”

His observational humour is good, his delivery spot on, but in the same way that songs have to say something to me about my life, Micky’s comedy is pretty lowest common denominator and his reliance on nostalgia for the good old days and stereotyping the working class as lazy and thieving, misogynist drunks gets belly laughs but rings a bit hollow. He knows his 80’s and 90’s recreational drugs does Micky, to laughs of recognition, and this cements his place as the post-Rave middle aged lad’s comedian of choice. He’s settled down now of course with his more upwardly mobile wife (his version of Les Dawson’s Mother In Law) but at 51 Mickey still sports a younger man’s hairstyle (yeah I know pot, kettle).

He doesn’t have Frankie Boyle’s hardcore approach, although in one story he overhears his mum calling his dad a “needle nosed cunt” and Jimmy Saville jokes are obligatory I guess in the world of Adult Comedy because you won’t get them on the BBC.

Mickys political comment is a solitary mention of Thatcher getting rid of Double Bubble (Saturday double time) because I guess ranting about the Tories is not as much of a crowd pleaser as spunk getting caught in a dreamcatcher stories …. but Micky doesn’t have any of the (punk or otherwise) attitude of say, Russell Brand or the stand up improvisational skill of Eddie Izzard, which meant, despite enjoying his show, left an overall feeling that, he is good, but not a comedy great and not breaking any new ground.

Maybe I’m just fussy but I like my comedy to have teeth and a bit of anger and a target… tonight though, I was in the minority. Roll on Alexie Sayle’s return to the stage later in the month….


Micky Flanagan be found at his website and Facebook page.

All words by Ged Babey. More work by Ged can be found in his Louder Than War archive.


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Ged Babey is 56. from Southampton, has written since 1985 for Sound Info, Due South, various fanzines and websites, contributed to Record Collector magazine and was sole author of 'Punk Throwback' fanzine -the name of which was taken from an insult hurled at him by the singer with a young band he managed for a while. Ged believes that all good music and art has a connection with punk rock.


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