You may remember The Catherine Tate Show as a storming early noughties success that’s been revisited recently, with three Christmas Specials focusing on the show’s most iconic character, Nan. Just when it could have been easy for Catherine Tate to slip into a monotonous regime of bringing her famous characters back for a TV specials, she switches things up again; taking them all on tour for a wildly fun show.
Portsmouth Guildhall is a suitably middle-sized venue for this kind of performance, so you don’t feel miles away from the stage, but also allows enough of a crowd to create an excited atmospheric. There’s no messing around here either; no dodgy support act to sit through before the main event, with Catherine Tate immediately taking the stage as a menagerie of different impressions.
There’s some new additions, and the return of some old classics; but all are equally hilarious. I won’t spoil the entire show, but we meet two office colleagues who like to play guessing games, a homophobic bald voter who’s very obviously gay himself, and, perhaps most hilariously, an Irish mother who plucks ‘pretty boys’ from the audience for ‘our John’ to have his first kiss. “My favourite gays are the ones with wives!”, she drawls to hysterics from the crowd, as she picks on several unsuspecting audience members who chuckle along with a typically British awkwardness.
Tate’s also great at slotting in some good regional jokes – at one point she’s raising money for the poor porn-obsessed call centre workers of Gosport, and the next she’s as Nan, complaining about how “fucking miles away” Portsmouth is. Every one is met with raucous laughter from the audience, whoops, cheers and thunderous applause.
As Tate and co. (yes, she’s brought Mathew Horne, a.k.a. our Jamie, along with her, along with several other familiar faces) swap between costumes, fun little video clips keep us entertained. A running thread through the show is Nan phoning into Nick Grimshaw’s radio show, complaining about having won tickets to The Catherine Tate Show Live rather than something with John Barrowman in it. Posh Mum makes an appearance, hiding in a cupboard with her hysterical children making a terrified video message, convinced she’s going to die at the hands of a school kid from a tower block.
Other old favourites featuring include the fake translator, this time causing trouble at a U.N. conference; Lauren, who tries her hand at some knife-throwing (“Am I bovvered?”); and of course Nan, who steals the show with some hilarious audience interaction. It’s far from perfect, with Tate fluffing her lines regularly, but the moments she goes wrong are almost the funniest in the show. And bloody hell there’s a lot for her to remember.
Like a lot of comedians recently, Tate ended on a more serious note – with a message to a struggling minority. She reaches out to those in the light, insisting there is hope for them all. That’s right, gingers one and all; it’s hard to get laid, but keep persevering. If you’re ginger, if you know a ginger, she asks you to get to your feet and show support to those that suffer from freckled skin, are easily burnt, and find themselves the smallest minority of hair colours nationwide. But in all honesty, Catherine Tate provides the biggest crutch for a world that is struggling in the face of annus horribilis – laughter, in bucket-fulls.
The Catherine Tate Show Live continues to tour the UK until December.