Jack Whitehall — Stood Up
The O2 Arena, London ★★✩✩✩
THERE are few comedians who polarise opinion quite like Jack Whitehall. Plenty have spent the weekend savaging his latest hour, Stood Up — but, with more than 15,000 fans crammed into The O2 Arena on a Monday night, well, he must be doing something right.
Both camps will find plenty to support their cause here. The set is slight, even by the standards of Whitehall, and he has a tendency to descend into toilet humour at every opportunity — at least when he’s not wanging on about his family.
By this point Michael Whitehall, the comedian’s father and travel partner, is almost the star attraction — at least if the rapturous reception that met the sound of his voice is anything to go by. For me? The joke is wearing a bit thin.
But there is a lot to showcase why he made it in the first place. Extended bits on veganism and healthy living are playful rather than mean (‘there are 12 different types of substitute milk now, which I would argue is 11 too many’). He makes digs at those who only run a half-marathon, feigning surprise they even came back after the interval, and makes an emu the all-singing star of the Nativity to get back at a childhood rival.
Whitehall does everything he can to make the set work, and he’s still a brilliant showman with fantastic comic timing. But there’s no hiding that jokes on his posh persona, Americans being stupid and accidentally sending embarrassing photos are hardly the material of a comedian firing on all cylinders.
I suppose the overriding question when faced with such a half-baked set is: why bother? Whitehall has established himself as a more-than-decent actor and an endearing TV personality. He doesn’t particularly need stand-up, and on this evidence, it doesn’t need him either.