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Graham Norton: Live at the Roundhouse (2001)

Irish comedian performs live in the roundhouse.

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Irish comedian performs live in the roundhouse.

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19 November 2001 (UK)  »

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He has no guests to bounce his smut off – the end result is a string of tired `oh look I'm gay' remarks that aren't very funny
19 October 2002 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Graham Norton returns to stand up in front of a sell out crowd at the Roundhouse Theatre. He brings with him the success of his television chat show as well as some of the tools he used on his shows.

I am a reasonable fan of Graham Norton in his TV chat show – and even knew him from minor roles in Father Ted years ago. I like his `shocking' camp style that he has with his guests, but will admit that once a week was probably enough and that I didn't stick with his show when it went 5 nights a week. I've always thought he is strongest when he has a good guest who is willing to play along – it encourages Graham but also acts as a weight to keep the show under control. And that's the problem here.

Here Norton has no guest but he tries to do what he has done on his chat show – make camp remarks to other people and try and appear shocking. So most of this is him trying to interact with the audience, but they are an anonymous crowd – he can hear them but we can't, so it doesn't work very well – it's amusing but never as funny as when he's one-on-one with a guest. That leaves the jokes to fall back on. Some routines are good – him reading from his old diary is pretty good, but mostly these are tired old `oh look I'm gay' jokes that aren't funny or inspired. What makes this even more embarrassing is the way he wheels out his old material in the shape of Kitty phone but gets only wrong numbers and an answer phone.

The final joke of any set should be strong so that it doesn't leave a nasty taste – the final joke here is weak in the extreme and left me thinking `THAT was the best you could do to close out the show?'. Norton himself has energy but he desperately needs a straightman (excuse the pun) to bounce off – here the audience just can't do that for him in the same way his guests can. His material is weak and his act just came across as an attempt to prove how shocking he is to all the straight white couples gathered in front of him.

This video reminded me of Frankie Howerd in his style but he is many miles away from that quality on this showing. I had recently been to see Rich Hall perform live at my local comedy club and when I watched this all I could think about was how very funny and interactive that show had been and how little I seemed to be laughing at this show.

Overall even fans of Norton may be let down but this. He tries to shock and be outrageous but we've heard all his jokes before and he only does a few things that are new. I saw this for free on TV and even then I felt slightly robbed.


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