Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown at the Guildhall (17/01/2013)


Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown has been described as “the most important comedian of the past 25 years” by Andy Medhurst, a man with a probable love of ham.  But I can positively say, he most definitely isn’t.

Roy is a stand-up comedian who has managed to drape a surprisingly celebrated career over 4 decades.  His main pastimes are describing himself as the most “offensive” and “controversial” comedian on the circuit and blindly fighting change.

I walked into the Guildhall expecting to be ashamed by the numbers of people who had paid the extortionate £20 fee to see Roy.  But I wasn’t.  Of the 1749 seats only 500 were taken, which remarkably, made me pity him.

The bleak turnout forced me to begrudgingly put aside my disapproval of Roy and instead think of him as just another 67 year old man.  I knew that the low ticket sales would be playing on his mind.  All I could think was, “Poor Roy, he is old, stupid, and father to a young son.  He doesn’t deserve this kind of financial stress.”  My mood didn’t brighten, even when the warm up act came on.

He chose to prime the audience for laughter with a terrible cover band.  They lacked talent, songs, style, energy, instruments, and a memorable name.  By the end of their half hour set they had managed to get the vast majority of the following to shout something abusive at them; an achievement which I don’t think they will be adding to their résumé.

When Roy finally made his appearance it was to Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” in a feeble attempt to keep at least one aspect of his set current.

Whilst Roy jumped around getting sweaty the crowd chanted, “YOU FAT BASTARD, YOU FAT BASTARD!”  This primitive ritual is a trademark of his shows.  I was surprised though to not only hear the impotent numbers of the crowd filling the vast hall with the sound of their banal abuse, but also a recording of a bigger and angrier crowd chanting through the PA system.

This means that he had decided before the show that the abuse Southampton could give him would not be enough to delight his flabby exterior.  He had to bring along the canned abuse of another town.  It made me feel dirty.

This display of human indecency was followed by a little over an hour of horrendously bad comedy.  His jokes were not only of poor taste but none of them contained anything reminiscent of a clever punch line.  The lowest point of the set was when he attempted to joke about the helicopter crash which killed two people in London recently; “Was that Stevie Wonder’s first fucking driving lesson?” was the eloquent punch his defunct brain decided to share.

A lot was wrong with Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown’s show but not all of the failings were his fault.  Technical malfunctions and a mass exodus to the toilet half way through drew even more attention to his poorly constructed performance.  It all left me feeling bored and deflated.

Roy is a “blue” comedian of a bygone era.  His unrelenting refusal to adapt has left him behind.  Watching him trying to entertain a hall that was comprised mostly of empty seats was frankly depressing.  He is now just a 67 year old man who dry-humps his hands in near empty rooms.

I have read countless interviews with Roy where he bats away criticism targeted at his shows with the statement, “I bet they have never seen me perform!” Well, Roy, if by some incredibly slim chance you stumble across this review whilst carrying out your daily routine of repeatedly Googling the word “flabby,” I have been to one of your shows.  And it was unbelievably dire.



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