Backyard Comedy Club, Bethnal Green, London, 29/09/2019.
During the past thirty odd years, and the thousands of comedians I’ve seen, I’ve noticed that if there’s less than ten audience members then the comedian is likely to struggle. It often doesn’t matter if the material is incredible, if the audience is very small then people seem reluctant to laugh, there appears to be a safety in numbers type attitude and so quite often many people don’t laugh. And that definitely seemed to be the case for Philip Simon’s gig tonight where only eight people were in attendance, he made me laugh a lot but often I was the only one doing so.
You could argue that perhaps he just wasn’t that funny but I don’t think it’s the case as is his set was strong and the story he told an intriguing one. To Simon’s credit it didn’t prevent him from putting everything in to the show too, early on he did question whether we’d actually seen the tv show Peppa Pig but once it was established that we had he threw his all in to the set. And the reason it involves Peppa Pig, and why the title is what it is, is because he played Peppa’s father, Daddy Pig, on stage for an eighteen month tour.
It’s a wide ranging hour where we get to hear stories about his acting career before he was cast as Daddy Pig, most of which involved characters who didn’t have names, at least until he played Ed Milliband in an advert. The former allows him to gently mock what it’s like to be a jobbing actor while the latter lets him do a bit of political material too, which he’s definitely adept at doing and also sprinkles throughout the set, indeed it’s so good at times I wished he’d concentrated on that side of things a little more.
When he gets to the point of talking about acting in the stage show it becomes even funnier stuff though, as are his comments about the tv series and certain odd aspects about it. His role as Daddy Pig lets him compare his life to the stage version as well, and perform some very impassioned material about the importance of raising boys to have empathy for others, and to be brought up in a gender neutral manner, which is not only funny but also astute stuff which only an idiot would disagree with.
The only downside to the show comes towards the end when he throws in an unneeded serious bit and it’s to the detriment of the set. In it he talks about how he didn’t bond with his son initially, and it’s okay but just a bit dull, and is something which has been covered elsewhere many a time. The same also applies to a bit where he talks about just how much he loves his son now, and that he’s all that matters, before he closes with a rant about how The Game Of Life board game doesn’t reflect reality in the slightest.
It’s a shame as in the last segment he becomes not only preachy but also a bit patronising, and it spoilt what had previously been a very enjoyable and very funny hour. This may be just a personal gripe as I’ve seen too many comedy shows with an unneeded serious bit recently, or perhaps it just needed to be handled a little more carefully rather than it seeing Simon come across as superior, because otherwise he’s a strong and very likeable comedian and if he stuck to just trying to make people laugh he’d be someone I’d see every time he performed a new show.