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Simon Brodkin | “A work in Progress” | Huntingdon Hall, Worcester | 29th July 23

Most people’s work in progress reflects an ad-hoc quality to the proceedings. As I start to write this review, a tentative plan is in place and the circumspect structure is far from assured: truly a work in progress! The progress of the night’s entertainment offered up by comedian Simon Brodkin was impeded as he kept us waiting for 15 minutes – was this another hoax? – as he arrived late. Surely, not part of the plan?

Unflustered and unabashed Brodkin worked the room to allay any disquiet. Engaging both sides of the room and the front seats he quickly established a rapport. The next ten minutes were spent proving who was in control. The apology and explanation were quickly accepted and the “satnav of expectation” was reset. Correspondingly, the night’s original plan began to unfold.

Many in the room were attending due to Brodkin’s previous persona as Lee Nelson, the wayward estate kid with a perverse view of the world. “Well cool innit?” The now mature and perhaps jaundiced world view of our society is even more perverse. Tellingly, Brodkin has matured and so has his comedic targets. The notion of X-Factor being more democratic than our politics created a crescendo of guffaws.

Some of the biggest horse laughs of the evening were reserved for Matt Hancock’s bungling during the pandemic. As a trained Doctor, I guess Simon Brodkin’s meticulous autopsy of the Ealing-comedy-character did hold up under the audience’s microscope.

Brodkin works well with contrasts and the conflict in society. The sketch about the treatment by a northern lass when running late to a train was juxtaposed with a similar situation in London. This was more than a skit on the north-south divide, this was a study of where we are as a nation. Once again the joke, or so we thought, focused on accents and social mores, the reality was how spiteful one can act. The laughs rose like perfect Yorkshire puddings.

Our comedian appreciated he is just as much a part of the malaise. Justifying his existence and applying his own moral code to himself. My wife is a much better person than me: “She’s a teacher, so after she has paid for a coffee and a train fare she is basically working on a voluntary basis.” The comedian then went on to call his daughter…

Perhaps Simon Brodkin’s work in progress didn’t quite flow at points, the narrative at times seemed skewed and maybe the timing was a little late. However, as I fight to get this piece to flow and think about my punchline – with no live audience in front of me – all I can think of was the comedian stating the stewards in the royal boxes were the best dressed he had ever seen. Conversely, we all know by the time the show is ready to be toured, the jokes, timing and flow will be just as well-dressed!

By: Swilgate Scuttler

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