Touring – reviewed at Gatehouse Theatre, Stafford
Brian Conley is a comedian whom I grew up watching on ITV, back in the day when we only had four channels to choose from! “It’s a puppet” will be his catchphrase for all eternity, but catchphrases aside, as a performer and entertainer he is in a league of his own. The show he currently has on the road provides a mixture of pure comedy genius, combined with musical moments and indeed Conley can be serious too – when he’s not trying to coax an unwitting audience member into putting her hand down his trousers!
Like all of the greats, there are jokes you would associate with Conley when you know his material. I know it inside out so I was slightly ahead with the punchlines. However, far from spoiling the experience, his familiar humour proves to be as much of a hit today as it was years ago. He interacts with the audience effortlessly and, naturally, his ‘victims’ are not scared to engage with him and that speaks volumes in itself.
We are treated to a number of his musical theatre characters with Conley’s velvet tones lending themselves beautifully to ‘Hush-a-bye Mountain’ from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and what a superb surprise for him to include a performance as Fagin in the mix. Jolson was a big hit for the master of comedy and no evening with Conley is complete without an excerpt or two from the show. Although no evening is complete without ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia’ either. If you know the violin trick Conley does, you’ll howl with laughter as if it was the first time you’d seen it. If you haven’t seen it before, just you wait.
There are few entertainers who are able to grab my attention and hold it for a full two-hour show without any waivers – Conley held me to rapt attention and I would watch this show again and again without hesitation. Catch this tour while you can. If you miss it you’ll have missed out. It’s like watching Tommy Cooper, with a dash of Russ Abbot and a sprinkling of Morecambe and Wise. Let me tell you, you ain’t seen nothing yet.