IT'S seven long years since Frank Skinner last did a stand-up tour and the Black country comedian has apparently been itching to do one all that time. Much has changed in the interim though.
For starters he’s got a steady girlfriend and a baby, game-changers both. He’s famously given up the booze and now (one senses reluctantly) the one night stands. Cue Gerry Rafferty sax.
At 56, Skinner still retains that impish, boyish swagger. But, as he was keen to tell the audience inside Liverpool’s Philharmonic, he’s changed, becoming, in his own words, “sophisticated,” less willing to do what he terms as “knob gags”.
The clue is in the title of his new show – Man In A Suit – suggestive of a new found sobriety, even respectability, which, for a man notorious for being youngish, free and single and with a penchant for wearing footie shirts, is a change of seismic proportions.
So, Frank Skinner has grown up, seems more comfortable in his own skin. The man is mellow, he’s cleaned up his life and his act. “I haven’t had a drink since 24th September 1986,” he tells the audience to rapturous applause. It’s more radish than laddish. All well and good I hear you say, but is he still funny? Short answer: yes.
Comedy is an art and that was put into sharp focus by the evening’s starter, Gareth Richards, a cheerful young apprentice who still has a very long way to travel down the comedy highway before he graduates.
When, finally, Skinner took to the stage it was to warm applause, partly born out of relief following the entree. From the moment he strode purposely out onto the Phil’s stage he owned it lock, stock and barrel, pacing up and down, holding court on subjects as diverse as Emma Bunton, Stuart Hall, haiku and the homeless.
Skinner reckons his strengths lie with exploration rather than invention, making no apology for dissecting his own life experiences which range from sexual shenanigans in the back of taxis to blazing rows with his much younger girlfriend. “Our arguments are like watching a rock band, we start off with the old ones…”
He might have been away from the circuit for a while, but you wouldn’t have known it. Skinner’s a genuine comedy superstar in an ocean of full of lightweight imposters.
“Robin Hood robbed from the rich to give to the poor.” Pause. “I don’t like him as much as I did.” Nothing wrong with his timing then.
If comedy is indeed the new rock n’ roll, then Skinner is its Mick Jagger only with fewer wrinkles. He had, however, confessed of late to being a little nervous about going back to the live forum.
Our own Doddy is fond of saying comics are born with funny bones. Imagine, if you will then, a Skinner x-ray.
“There’s two types of women who have short, grey hair,” he mused, “Those with an interest in the arts and those with 12 cats and a history of mental illness.”
Frank Skinner’s not quite gone all gooey. More yummie Brummie than full blown Renaissance man, but he’s maturing nicely thank you.
i wish i had been there…it sounds like something joyous and anarchic...the way the article is…Read more
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Thanks Angie for your brilliant piece, so glad you wrote it! Now i know what was going on! Being in…Read more