Miles Jupp: On I Bang | Roses Theatre | 1st February 2024
The urbane comedian Bob Monkhouse always maintained, back in the day: “You should allow the audience time to admire the suit, just for a moment, when you have walked out on to the stage.” How many comedians wear a suit on stage today? The sophisticated comedian Miles Jupp walked out on to stage resplendent in a two-piece suit, accompanying Windsor-knotted tie and immediately began to spin a beautiful and elaborate narrative over the next two hours…
The well-educated and well-read – is there a connection? – Mr. Jupp has a way with words that if you received a WhatsApp message from him you would probably keep it for life, refusing to delete, no matter the reason. His poetic prose elevated the premise of stand-up to a level of revered word-smithery.
Likewise, the Roses theatre is much revered locally and rightly so. On the night the sold-out theatre was fuller than a Roses tin of chocolates from the 1970s…for one man and a microphone.
Like Monkhouse, Miles Jupp insists on a gentle comedic approach. His genial comedy appeals to those for whom wry observations and the celebration of the English language are enough to raise a complicit chuckle. The title of the show “On I Bang” is grossly misleading as the delivery is anything but cogent, instead opting for a more liberal and considered tone. At times, if feels as if Jupp Esquire is almost apologetic for being there…
The audience unapologetically embraced the tales of Jupp holidays and the dynamic of the family Jupp. The asides of everyday, minor injustices gave way to stories of bewilderment and incomprehension and the word picture of the first half of the show involving the seaside, being unfortunately recognised, his son “wazzing” in public and a stolen bucket showed that the most innocent of scenarios contain humour.
The injustice of discovering a tumour had stolen its way into Miles Jupp’s brain in 2022 meant a theatrical silence descended on the auditorium. You could have heard a scalpel blade drop.
Refusing to hide behind sentimentality the comedian explored and seemed to unpack the clutter of his mind since his unfortunate episode two years ago. The beautiful and elaborate narration of coming to terms with his predicament, the pending operation and the potential outcomes allowed the orator to polish the comedic diamonds lurking in the mineshaft of fear and despair.
You can’t deny Jupp knows how to craft a meandering monologue with consummate precision. The reserved voyeur knows how the indignity of life can create comedy highlights in Albion. The extended skit of Miles crouching down for an MRSA swab will remain longer in the memory than Truss’s tenure in number 10. The repetition of the inquiry into his bowel movements after the operation will still create an involuntary smile long after the image of Johnson hiding in a fridge has dissipated.
Miles Jupp allowed himself a few political observations that hit home more times than the contestants on the Golden Shot hosted by Bob Monkhouse all those years ago. All observations tinged with his liberal, balanced viewpoint- which brought forth knowing chuckles.
The ascent from the heightened realisation of coming around surrounded by medical professionals to the descent of seeing his forlorn Mother waiting outside of the ward after his operation is the theatre of the everyday.
You don’t get to witness a comedic performance like this every day!
…as we walked down the steps of the hallowed Roses theatre listening to Shane MacGowan’s “Rainy Night in Soho”, the sweet melancholia of the poetic song reflected the mood with the line: “Smiled at your funny little ways.” And I thought about the comedians who insisted on a gentle approach to their comedy and about our lives which at times, “… plays all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order.”
By: Nicholas David Burford
Ps For those unfortunate enough to miss the modest, prince of comedy in Theoc, you have another chance to genuflect in his presence in Regency Cheltenham on March 12th at the salubrious Town Hall. If you can, put the clutter of your lives to one side and make sure you attend.