Frank Skinner: Man in a Suit at Soho Theatre
Frank Skinner returns to the stage after a six-year hiatus. Man in a Suit is like a 60-minute witty, on-the-pulse, train-of-thought status update in that it lacks a central thread.
Age, ageing, and male perspective inform a lot of the content in the show. He’s 56, he’s lived a lot – let’s hear about it. Age has graced him with experience, authority, and a unique perspective. The first portion of the show is a warm-up for the middle and end – covering everything from the gentle syllabic art of the haiku to hilariously visual bedroom politics, or “smut”, which he acknowledges he is known for.
Skinner’s flow is easygoing, allowing plenty of time for crowd interaction and the unknown. It is impressive to see a performer of any sort, particularly comedy, take on a sizable chunk of the front row throughout the gig. Sometimes this doesn’t work, but in this case it contributes to call-back material that sometimes helps resolve dangling threads. He discusses his distinctly showbiz/celebrity dilemma of where and how to get rid of his old suits of yesteryear – the ones with the wide lapels – give directly to a charity shop, or sell on eBay? He is both self-depreciating and selfish: try and fault him but he will beat you to it.
The comedian speaks about when he met HRH Prince Charles who asked him: “Are you on YouTube?”. He recalls playing a prank on an ex-lover’s six-year-old child, life in London, commuting, competitive charity, homelessness, the Southbank. Although the material covers more areas, it is his anal sex story that garners one of the most laugh-out-loud moments. The way he connects anal sex to the shiny foil of a crisp packet and Plato’s cave is spot-on and very effective.
The structure and pace of the show as a whole is loose, and for this reason gives the sense that it isn’t 100 per cent honed. Skinner himself discusses the current polarised state of stand-up comedy: on one end of the scale you have massively well-known comics who want to be adored in sell-out stadium arenas by Joe Soap, and on the other, niche intelligentsia comics who want to be adored by a small exclusive clique of bohemian types. He raises the question of whether shows should be ”perfect” – so rehearsed that there is no room of error. In this case, the audience got plenty of bang for their buck.
Frank Skinner: Man in a Suit is at the Soho Theatre until 23rd November 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch Frank Skinner speak about his return to stand-up here: