It was about midway through the show, during a discussion about how a dishcloth should never just be thrown out before being turned into a floor cloth first, that I felt myself give up. I just wasn’t into it at all, even though I knew and liked many of the songs that were played. A best-of collection of songs from his twenty-five year career, Shuttleworth’s show was aimed specifically at fans of his type of comedy. If I’m being honest, I’m surprised many of them are still alive.
Having grown up in the eighties and spent many summer holidays at seaside resorts in Blackpool or Scarborough suffering through light-entertainment cabaret acts, Shuttleworth’s show brought back nightmares. Shuttleworth’s schtick is intentionally bad keyboard songs celebrating the good old days and nostalgia draped in middle-aged male rage at how the world has changed. Unfortunately, these type of cabaret acts are all long forgotten now, so is the joke supposed to be that it sounds like something younger generations have never heard or just that it’s bad, I wonder? Being old enough to understand some of the archaic references, I’d have to say it’s the latter. Having seen both the Doug Anthony All Stars and Stevenson Experience earlier in the week, my exposure to hilarious, well-made, clever, funny musical acts just highlighted everything that was missing here. The whole act was so old fashioned that I feel I should probably have written this review in hieroglyphics.
Look, I understand that “THIS IS THE JOKE” but is being deliberately bad really that funny anymore? When was even the last time you saw a bad cabaret act, the essential reference point for what Shuttleworth’s is attempting to subvert? Throughout the whole show there was only polite laughter from the sell out crowd aside from a few white haired fans who were literally bent double laughing at his puns and wordplay. I did laugh a couple of times during a rendition of “How’s Your Nan?”, where the pun is about having a curry (nan/naan), but I think that was my brain giving in by that point.
Of course the show is absolutely aimed at an older generation who remember things such as Vince Hill and Pebble Mill. A generation who grew up laughing to Les Dawson on Blankety Blank. A generation who find most comedy too offensive or political and just want something to take their mind off the pressures of owning all the property in the UK while complaining about millennials.