The boys from Made in Chelsea storm the comedy world with their hit UK tour, Private Parts Live.
For 18 months, Made In Chelsea stars Jamie Laing and Francis Boulle have been co-hosting a podcast called Private Parts in which they ‘reveal the most intimate and sordid details of [their]lives’, including features from their diaries. The programme’s audience figures have gone from strength to strength over that time, and the positive reception led the two men to announce earlier this year that they were going on a twenty-date tour, plus booking three dates at the Edinburgh Fringe. On Friday, the reality-turned-comedy duo landed at the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton, ready to make an impression.
Sheepishly stumbling onto the the dimmed stage like a lost puppy, 30-year-old Francis Boulle makes an embarrassing announcement to the audience: he hasn’t heard from Jamie so it looks as though he is going to have to complete the set on his own. Then, he receives a video from his partner, which is projected onto the big screen using ‘Blu-ray’. The camera focuses on Jamie’s face, and we realise he is in bed. Naked. He sees the time on his clock, and sprints out of the house, jumps onto a canal boat, and makes his way to Southampton, all while still without clothes, of course. Suddenly, the star of the show launches himself into the audience, still running, and joins Boulle on stage to rapturous cheering and heckles of ‘give us a wave!’ from the audience. Boulle assists Laing into some ill-fitting clothes, and the real show begins, and this lively opening scene sets the tone effectively for the rest of the two hour performance.
As the show really got under way it became clear that the pair were starting to settle down, and as Francis and Jamie’s respective roles as straight man and responsive comedian became more evident, the chemistry worked well through their demonstration of a very close friendship. As Jamie sits down on the sofa, he explains to the audience, ‘Francis used to be fun’. ‘I was never fun’, Francis responds, who continues to present a persona of fact-geek, telling us of his campaign to save the critically endangered pangolin. Despite the fact that the two young men aren’t in the same league as Ant and Dec, the targets of one of their later self-deprecating sketches, the Judge Rinder and Louis Theroux lookalikes used the talent and image they do have to their great advantage.
Nothing was out of bounds in this outrageous performance: sexuality, drug use, downfalls of fame, necrophilia – and the audience lapped it up. Jamie’s self-antagonism epitomised the on-the-edge humour – for fifteen minutes, he talked us through his botched hair transplant, even showing pictures in graphic detail. He proudly joked about buying his Instagram followers, and the woes of botox, and in another context, this might have been quite a sinister appraisal of modern living. But Laing’s dramatic presentation (obtained through studying musical theatre at Leeds) was countered excellently by Boulle, whose reading of his diary, a regular section of the podcast, was undoubtedly the best received skit of the night.
His deadpan facial expression and monotone voice prepared us for this Pilkington-esque, depressing but painfully funny performance. He began by telling us about a lady shouting ‘Rob’ at him from across the store. Boulle decides she was probably not shouting at him, but at another man, ‘whose name was probably Rob’. Then, Boulle realises – maybe his name isn’t Rob, but he is a ‘criminal mastermind training to steal on command’. But Francis is not always the straight man – on occasion through the night, he whipped out his dark side, even prank-calling the Daily Mail’s newsdesk to offer some scoop on Jamie’s private life – something they weren’t interested in because a Z-lister Made in Chelsea star wasn’t deemed ‘newsworthy’. Boulle could easily break off as a successful solo comedian with that performance, but the chemistry between the two stars is, like Mel and Sue’s, cheesy and delightful.
The show closed in an even more upbeat, outrageous fashion than the crude, nude awakening that we all got at the beginning: after quipping that he auditioned to play Sandy in Grease at university, Jamie runs on with a big blonde bush on his head and starts performing ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ to the elated standing ovation. Yet this was not the climax – Francis, who earlier confessed that he wanted to be the fourth member of boyband Hanson as a child, something which Jamie ridiculed him for by reminding him that Hanson was comprised of three brothers, danced on stage with a great brunette curly mop and violin to ‘MMMbop’.
The audience was brought very much into the thrilling performance, with plenty of boxes of candy kittens given away periodically, and an interview with Kimberly (front row cameo), who anticlimactically told us all of the time her sister sat on thistles to urinate. Perhaps this was planned in advance to distract from the slightly wooden script that was evidently rigidly followed by the performers throughout the show. Overall, the use of space and technology was fantastic, the performance provided plenty of belly laughs, and Jamie Laing and Francis Boulle did a fantastic job at bringing Southampton some joy and fun.
The Private Parts podcast is available to stream on iTunes.