The troll thing is still important but the material has more to it than that one thread and the show is better for it
It wasn't until Black Books that I actually bothered to give Bill Bailey the time of day. Up till then I had just taken him as an amusing man who perhaps overplays his unusual appearance. In his Bewildernness show I thought he had enough about him to be worth a look but that he had too many weak spots. Despite this I decided to give his recent show a look to see if things had gotten better and I was happy to see that they had indeed.
This show is a lot stronger than his earlier one because he has a broader range of material to work with, is still as inventive and generally has funnier material where previously he had tended to tail off during routines. Here he covers the type of material I would expect him to do (ie "look at me, I'm a little man with a beard"), politics, news and different types of musical interlude. The mix works because it took away the impression that he was very much clinging to his troll image as his sole way of drawing laughs. Instead I felt that he had material to work with and that, no matter what he was doing, he had an imaginative touch running through it all (which I don't feel he does when relying on his appearance). At times it is very silly but he keeps the audience there so even if I wasn't laughing, I was still engaged by the flights of fancy he went on and the imaginative ideas.
As a showman he is a bit limited but his material was strong enough to hold the audience. I still prefer other comedians simply because my own humour is more acerbic and sarcastic (form a queue ladies) but he did well enough to keep me amused if not exactly rolling in the aisles. The show itself is well put together and suited some of his bigger musical numbers but when he is just talking and walking around on stage it doesn't feel like he commands the room although in fairness the place felt too big for comedy to me.
Overall though this was a consistently amusing show and better than I expected from Bailey. Yes, he does still play his troll card quite heavily but the material has expanded into other areas to provide a bit of diversity and stops the show running out of steam in the way Bewilderness did. His presentation is a bit samey but the material is imaginative and engaging and provided quite a few laughs as well as a pretty constant smile. Fans will fall over to watch it of course, but there is enough here for Bailey to win new converts such as myself.
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