Truro Hall For Cornwall
added: 3 Feb 2014
// gig date: 30 Jan 2014
reviewer: James Coplin
It's almost 2 years since Russell last brought a show to Truro. Last time he was analysing modern masculinity in his hilarious 'Manscaping' show where he picked and pulled at the very fabric of what it means to be a man, and the trials, tribulations and contradictions we face in today's increasingly metrosexual society.
After support Omar Hamdi has nicely warmed up the packed out Hall for Cornwall for half an hour, we're all ready and waiting for Russell. He gets big laughs and applause before he even comes on stage as he introduces himself MC style "Ladies and Gentlemen.......and people from Camborne" (local knowledge required for laughs!)
He comes on stage like a whirlwind and proceeds to tuck right in to the poor unfortunates/attention seekers in the front row (after all you do choose your seat when you book!) As he proved last time round, Russell is a master of audience participation and banter and whichever target he chooses stands no chance against his razor sharp put downs and wit, including a local trolley pusher who decided it would be a good idea to leave his high-vis jacket on for the show......the poor guy stood no chance!
The thing is Russell is just so likeable, he's a genuinely nice bloke, he's like us, we relate to him. His measured delivery and lightning pace means that no sooner has he annihilated one victim, he's moved swiftly onto the next, but his self- deprecating style and down to earth, completely uncondescending manner means he gets away with it unscathed getting the big laughs without patronising his audience.
He seems to constantly be thinking on his feet all the time, so much that even after his improvised opening segment, once he's started on the 'Smallness' theme, it's unclear how much of it is rehearsed and much is off the cuff as he's constantly bouncing off the audience. Whether natural or intentional, this talent makes us the participating crowd, feel very much a part of an organic experience as opposed to just a regular audience laughing on cue.
His subject matter, Smallness, is about how we British like things in their place, love our routine, and struggle when faced with change, eg we find it more comfortable to laugh, snigger and point at someone who falls over in the street than go over and help them up and ask if they're OK!
Russell props up the subject matter with countless personal, hilarious anecdotes in which he spends most of the time either taking the piss out himself, his girlfriend Lindsey from Manchesstaaaah (who likes Booootaaaaah), and his seemingly constant struggle to, at the same time, both escape from and yet rush back to his council estate Essex roots.
The Smallness theme doesn't meld together as well as Manscaping, but an underlying subject matter is largely immaterial when anecdotes involving aggressive Geordies in Thailand sit comfortably next to the awkwardness of encountering 'real celebrity' and sharing a sauna with Lewis Hamilton and Nicole Sherzinger. Last time round Russell was broken hearted (his 'kitchen floor reset' routine is a classic), this time he's in love, no matter, he tears up both situations and blows comedy dust back at us.
Russell doesn't stop moving all night, he's a ball of energy and his stories are made all the more entertaining visually by him pulling faces, spinning around, throwing himself to the floor and physically reliving every anecdote that spews from his mouth. Tonight he regularly adopts a comedy Cornish accent (which he's got down pretty well I must say!) which makes some of his yarns even funnier.
Although his talent makes him unnervingly part of the celebrity clique, Russell is most certainly not the type of 'celebrity' which many who relish in that identity strive to become. But he's sure to continue to sit in the first class section on the cult of celebrity gravy train, observe the madness, then come back and report it all back to us.
He's been on the road a while, but there's still about 50 dates left of this mammoth tour left, so he's bound to be somewhere near you soon, you won't regret it.
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