Just when you think life couldn’t get any more awkward for funnyman Josh Widdicombe he goes and fumbles his way through introducing support act Suzi Ruffell causing much amusement for the pair at Widdicombe’s expense. After explaining to the audience at Leeds Town Hall the cause of the laughter, the close friend of Josh, and his regular touring buddy, quickly hits her stride given that she’s only got twenty or so minutes on stage.
Barrelling through her routines barely stopping to catch breath, Ruffell discusses her early introduction to comedy at the expense of a school teacher, the confusion that all the letters associated with sexuality causes her parents and her uncomfortable experience getting a smear test in front of a room full of trainee doctors. Joking to the room that “this is awkward if you’ve come with your parents”, Ruffell’s duration on stage is generally based around her experiences as a lesbian. She uses her short time to discuss the pitfalls of letting her mates fit her up on blind dates, the times where she has been mistaken for a bloke and the dangers of honeymooning abroad in countries that aren’t “down with the gays” all delivered at 80 mph to an audience who are part laughing out loud, part shuffling awkwardly in their seats.
Speaking of awkward, things get no better for the headliner when he takes to the stage. Attempting to interact with the front rows, his choices include someone with an assistance dog, someone whose partner is ill and a member of the Catholic church. Probably not the start he wanted but it certainly typifies the kind of situations that Widdicombe battles through on a daily basis.
The first half of the show sees Widdicombe talking us through the frustration of his marriage and the fact his better half is someone who likes “healthy food”. For the next twenty or so minutes, Widdicombe vents his spleen at how he had been signed up to receive a weekly “veg box” only to find that, once a week, he returns home to find a cardboard box dropped outside his front door full of veg that nobody likes or has heard of. Spending the next seven days watching said veg rot in his fridge before repeating the process with the next box, it’s this kind of lifestyle that may seem mundane to some but, to this comic, results in him descending into a mix of anguish, frustration and anger.
As the show continues, Widdicombe admits that he doesn’t deal with his frustrations head on, preferring to unleash them in front of a thousand people on stage giving the impression at times that this is more of a therapy session than a comedy show for the funnyman. He continues to vent as hotels, his bad neck and passing his driving test all come under the spotlight while the birth of his daughter has seen Widdicombe’s already anguish filled life thrown into complete chaos as he has to deal with lack of sleep and an industry that delights in taking money off new parents for things they don’t really need.
The final part of the show sees Widdicombe in full flow as he explores the world of weddings from not only the viewpoint of the Bride and Groom but also his experiences as a guest. Wedding food, adult only weddings, evening-only invites and the first kiss are just some of the things that send his blood pressure sky high and send the ninety-minute set hurtling towards its conclusion. However, just when he feels he’s safe, there is one last moment of awkwardness as the headliner has to navigate through a door to get off stage.
Returning moments later, Widdicombe puts the cherry on top of the cake as he recalls an experience with a journalist which ended up with the comedian in the local press discussing his favourite pizza in the middle of fire evacuation. It’s typical of the kind of situation that Widdicombe finds himself in and is exactly the reason why he’s packing out venues like this one night after night with people who head out into the night safe in the comfort that, in Josh Widdicombe, there is someone else out there as frustrated by the little things in life as they are.