Stephen Merchant: Hello Ladies Review

4/5

Compared to his comedy other half Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant has generally kept himself away from the limelight, instead remaining in the background as a subsidiary to one of Britain’s highest attention seeking comics. Hello Ladies marks his debut performance in the world of stand up and illustrates a carefully calculated move that has clearly been in contention for some time. Finally venturing out of the wake of Gervais, Merchant opens his set with the amicably honest words: “finally I don’t have to share the money with ‘you-know-who’.”

Right from the get go Merchant makes it evident that he is just as comfortable on the stage as he is behind a camera or radio mic. His presence hints at an air of arrogance not too dissimilar to Gervais but one which suits him far better. As he casually plays with the idea that everyone knows who he is and of the numerous awards he has won, his inherent geeky nature and lack of concern for self-deprecation allows the audience to immediately warm to him.

As the set revolves around a general theme of his inability to find a wife, it becomes clear that being famous doesn’t automatically secure you a lifetime partner. From the troubles encountered when you are 6ft 7in and the average female is 5ft 4in, to tales of how his stingy disposition has left many a girl unimpressed, Merchant entertains through the comparisons that can be made between him and the average normal person.

For a first show, Hello Ladies is highly impressive and demonstrates that Merchant has a clear understanding of the structural form of stand up. With an excellent balance of material, he does well to keep the audience entertained for just about the whole duration of his set. Inevitably, a number of gags fall flat, but this is a minor factor in what is otherwise a terrific performance.

It is clear that the loveable Bristolian has made his mark in the stand up world, proving that he easily has what it takes to be among the best. We can only hope that this show isn’t his last.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Oct 18th 2011.

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