Jack Whitehall. King of Comedy, Waitrose shopper, self-professed ponce and the inexplicable new voice of Asda. A man who, at the age of 28 has achieved more in his rise to fame than most comedians manage by the time they retire. A spate of awards under his belt, along with his beloved roles in Bad Education and 2016’s greatest televisual loss, Fresh Meat (as well as his turn as the sadly lineless Gothi the Troll in Disney’s Frozen), Whitehall is now embarking on his latest sell-out tour, ‘At Large’, his first since 2014’s ‘Gets Around’.
Having seen Whitehall previously, I knew what I was in for; a madcap romp through public school japery punctuated by the occasional stiff-upper-lip sexcapade with a tender spattering of nostalgia and Disneyphilia. What I hadn’t factored, however, is that three years have passed since Whitehall “got around” (so to speak), and the neurotic young man, then beginning his career, has in fact now been “around”, and, one might say, grown up.
Whereas Gets Around was a spectacle of segways and canyon escape plans, ‘At Large’ is a stripped back, more mature Whitehall. His tales of going to America and being taken for a ride by manager Chad are at once hilarious and humbling, the highlight being the recollection of his audition to play “opposite” his old rival Robert Pattinson (good to know some things haven’t changed!). His own disbelief at having been tasked with being the new voice of the Asda commercials, despite allegedly never having shopped there, lead to some wonderful running gags, and I’m sure no audience member will ever be able to take the ads seriously when they hit the air.
Self-deprecation runs rife throughout proceedings, and although the neurotic is still there, it’s nice to see it reigned in. Indeed, it’s rare in an audience of three and a half thousand to feel such an intimate connection with a comic. Whitehall has stopped trying to please and is presenting himself bare, complete with an air of “like it or lump it”.
Warm up act Lloyd Griffith is an unexpected treat, his “if you’re not laughing, you’re learning” schtick revealing itself in a routine centred around his knowledge of British cathedrals and impressions of adhesive tapes, a routine which left me in tears, but left the young chap sitting next to me utterly bewildered (though to be fair, the one titter that came from him in the whole show was at the much-promised expense of Jamie Redknapp, so… Horses for courses?).
‘At Large’ is a wonderful introspective into a more world-weary Whitehall, still packing the punch of his youth, but delivering it in a smart, sophisticated (if somewhat sordid) sundae, along with a few sneaky in-jokes for longtime followers.
A great start to the year.
Jack’s UK tour continues over the next few months, and tickets can be purchased from www.jackwhitehall.com