The Stand 3 on York Place is the kind of venue that springs to mind when you think ‘underground comedy club’. The lights are dim, red velvet seats line up in packs of twenty or so, and the small bar over in the corner is serving a delectable range of drinks. The black curtain behind the stage is where the comedian would be expected to enter… but not Phill Jupitus, who instead follows the audience through the same door they passed through about five minutes earlier. After an understated introduction, he grabs his guitar and gets to it.
After Jupitus’ 2017 Fringe show Achtung!/Acting!, which was a character-based improv show, he returns to The Stand this year with a more typical stand-up piece. The beginning of the show is musical, and somewhat standalone to the rest of the show. It is fair to say that jokes surrounding car choice and driving behaviour are fit for a very particular kind of audience. Thankfully for Jupitus at least half of the room fits that bill nicely.
He then puts the guitar down and moves on to the meaty part of the story: a retelling of how he was awarded a doctorate from the University of Kent in July 2017, forming part of the university’s main graduation ceremony. From this one story, Jupitus carves out 45 minutes worth of material. By the sounds of it he could easily have done more. His version of events is unbelievably funny, featuring some absolute gems, such as his Stephen Fry impression, and how he gave the Chancellor of the university a black eye with a bit of bread. A highlight has to be his retelling of a doctor joke that fell absolutely flat with a crowd of 2000 people in Canterbury Cathedral until he explained it to them (a glorious moment captured here by the university’s YouTube channel).
This is humour that reaches everyone across the board. The car jokes might go over the heads of slightly younger audience members, but the university related material makes everybody laugh regardless of age. Any students or recent graduates in the audience will find that Jupitus’ wit hits very close to home, especially his description of a graduation ceremony. The broad appeal of the material is equalled by the man delivering it. Jupitus can trigger infectious, stomach-hurting laughter with little effort. All it takes is one well placed joke, a facial expression, or an uncanny impersonation, and you would be rolling on the floor if the chairs were more spaced out.
Jupitus manages to fit some other brilliant moments into his set. He discusses how Noel Fielding found himself on The Great British Bake Off after it moved to Channel 4 (Fielding starred as a team captain alongside Jupitus in Never Mind the Buzzcocks). As Jupitus says, Channel 4 must have looked at that show and thought “of those two, which one looks like they enjoy baking? Oh yeah, the Joan Jett look alike with pixie boots and a green cape”. Fielding is one of several acquaintances that Jupitus brings into his material, Mark Steel being another.
Very few comedians can guarantee laughs throughout a show as consistently as Jupitus can. Thirty four years in entertainment can really shine through with a comic as talented as him, and he proves it once more with an incredible show that delivers the funnies again and again. A master comedian with a madcap story to tell, you strike gold when you see Phill Jupitus on stage.
Phill Jupitus: Sassy Knack
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4 – Stand 3 (Venue 12)
Photo Credit: Off the Kerb Productions