The beaming Michael McIntyre skips onto stage in front of waist-high illuminated letters spelling out Happy and Glorious. Not sure whether it is an instruction or a description of his mood but the truth is, it is impossible to be unhappy when McIntyre is in the room.
This is family friendly, feel-good stand-up comedy. Even his best attempts to seem grumpy or angry have the audience in stitches. Unashamedly middle class, well-mannered McIntyre has neither the accent, nor the face, to carry off the angry, political humour favoured by many modern comedians. And he is far too polite to use his unsuspecting crowd as easy targets for cutting humour.
He talks about his life, his family, his new country home, life on the road at the mercy of motorway services and foreign holidays. McIntyre talks about life we can relate to. I found myself nodding in embarrassed agreement as he imitated Brits at the airport – walking religiously up and down the zig-zag zones whether there was a queue or not. I so do that.
The home life of the father-of-two is exposed for all too see but could be a comic parody of many of our own lives. There was some knowing looks between parents as he confessed his use of Calpol ‘stun guns’ and the iPad frisby to buy yourself a lie-in.
He is quite candid about losing weight – and why – and goes into quite some detail about some recent feet related health issues. You know you shouldn’t laugh at his ailments, but the vision of McIntyre running tip-toed, shoeless and with his trousers rolled up chasing an imaginary child around the pool (!) will have me sniggering for days.
McIntyre has a boundless and infectious energy as he skips, to the point of breathlessness, back and forth across the length of the stage. A spectacle which helps convey some atmosphere throughout the large, packed arena. Last night was the first of four nights in Birmingham and packed to the rafters – despite a clash with England’s first match in the Rugby World Cup.
He had even done his homework with a few quips about Aston Villa suggesting it is the preferred choice of the rich and powerful who have no real interest in football such as David Cameron and Prince William. Who think the Villa is in Tuscany and claret and blue a signal for another glass of red wine.
I laughed, a lot, last night. My teenage son laughed, a lot, last night. There is little swearing or gratuitous sex jokes – although there is some toilet humour. This is comedy you can enjoy with the family. It is, indeed, Happy and Glorious.
Long to reign over us, God save comedy king – Michael McIntyre
McIntyre is at the Barclaycard Arena again tonight, next Friday and Saturday.
By Diane Davies