Award-winning comedian Joe Lycett has popped up on TV in the likes of Live at the Apollo, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and Sunday Night at the Palladium, and now he’s getting his first live stand-up DVD, That’s The Way A-ha A-ha… Joe Lycett (get it?). Filmed at the Duchess Theatre in London, the disc showcases Joe’s mix of whimsy, acerbic comedy, and ‘being weird’.
To be honest, he is a bit of a Marmite proposition, as while many will find him a riot, other probably won’t quite get his idiosyncratic style, which varies from a love of puns, to stories from his life, to recounting the messages he sent to try and get out of a parking fine. A lot of it is very funny, and even those who overall don’t find Joe’s comedy to be quite their cup of tea, should get a few decent laughs.
One reason some will be turned off is that there occasionally a casual, unthinking meanness to some of his comedy, which doesn’t seem to realise that it is mean. It’s odd really, as much of his set demonstrates clear-headed, well-thought out ideas about the world and how people should treat each other. For example, he talks about his bisexuality, explaining why he prefers the terms pansexuality and why it ought to be talked about more. He also casually brings in his dislike of outdated misogynistic attitudes, and does it all in ways that are amusing and don’t feel like he’s lecturing the audience.
However, then he’ll throw in a quip or do a bit where he revels in having made other people’s lives difficult or uncomfortable. He suggests he’s doing it to ‘be weird’ or in a vaguely holding power to account way, but he does it by going after extremely low-hanging fruit and what in reality is belittling people unnecessarily. The fact there’s also a slight massaging of his ego after its been dented to some of these bits. doesn’t quite fit with the ideas about respect and how the world should be he talks about extremely well in the rest of his show.
Thankfully though, while those bits aren’t as smart or well thought-out as Lycett thinks (although they are admittedly appreciated by the audience), the rest of it is very funny. LGBT audiences will appreciate that while he is a little camp, he treats sexuality as anything but the punchline, bringing in everything from Grindr to the period in his life when he thought he was ‘full gay’, in ways that just make the whole thing seem perfectly natural. Unlike quite a few non-straight comedians who have gone before him, he does it without winking at the audience and in funny ways. He’s also certainly flying the flag for giving proper respect to bi/pansexuality, and not seeing it as being greedy, indecisive or just something someone says so they can have sex with as many people as humanly possible.
In terms of staging, it’s certainly not the most complex set-up, but it works for the show. That’s particularly true as there are certain bits that are rather interactive and inclusive of the audience, and the intimate staging allows that to work extremely well, and also helps to get it across to a viewer of the DVD. It helps ensure that while some aspects of Joe’s style may grate on some people, overall it’s a funny disc from a humorous man who certainly has the potential to go on too much greater things.
Overall Verdict: While a few moments of self-satisfied dismissiveness of others (which results in an unearned smugness on Joe’s part) will annoy some, for most of the time Lycett’s first stand-up DVD is a funny success.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac