Review: Lee Nelson at the Duchess Theatre, London

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Lee Nelson showed a routine as polished as his attire as he took to the London stage for his “Suited and Booted” tour. Performing a very funny set, Lee’s creator Simon Brodkin seemed to relish the freedom of the stage compared to the TV, as he traded the stereotype humour that made Lee Nelson so famous for jokes, but with even more bite.

Although he kept it light-hearted throughout, he did venture into more political territory – making fun of UKIP, looking at our treatment of immigrants and at one point brilliantly shutting down a xenophobic heckler. Indeed, the set felt more like Brodkin than Nelson, as out of the glare of television the comedian seems to be moving past the character that brought him so much fame. Would the Lee of the Well Good Show have jokes about racial profiling and xenophobia? While many moments were still undoubtedly Lee, whose chirpy ignorance gives so much to some of his more satirical punchlines, it was not a set completely dominated by the character – a change made visual by the ditching of his trademark popped collar polo and snapback in favour of a suit. Brodkin’s repertoire of material is much larger than his television shows would have you believe, with jokes ranging from immigration, to British culture, to his parenting and relationship skills.

His real forte, however, remains audience interaction. Nobody within sight of him is safe, as your age, nationality, region, behaviour, dress sense and company are all fair game to the irreverent comedian. His mocking is always done in a friendly way though, repeatedly pointing out to the audience that he loves to banter with them, even if he did question whether your reviewer had yet to hit puberty (babyface be damned).

The Duchess Theatre in Camden, posh but small, perhaps represented a dip in the fortunes of a comedian who headlined the Apollo and had a national TV show. However, from the strength of this tour, which was massively extended by popular demand, there is every sign that the new direction Lee has taken is definitely the right one.

Lee’s tour continues playing up and down the country from now until May, although there are unfortunately no dates in Southampton, those who have the chance to see him will not regret going.

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