Barry Cryer - The First Farwell Tour

STEVE DOWNES Sheringham Little Theatre


> Sheringham Little Theatre

If laughter is therapeutic, then the best part of 200 people in North Norfolk will be feeling very good indeed.

Their sides will still be aching and their eyes may be a little swollen from the tears of laughter.

But, thanks to the peerless and quite hilarious Barry Cryer, that will hardly matter.

The comic writer, stand-up gagman, and near the knuckle - but always on the mark - panellist on Radio Four's I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue was on top form at a sold out Sheringham Little Theatre on Saturday night.

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He brought his “first farewell tour” to the Norfolk resort, with pianist and raconteur Barry Bignold providing stoic support.

The recipe was simple. Jokes, jokes, jokes - with a little music thrown in.

If anyone thought Cryer's sharp repartee on Radio 4 was down to clever editing or research in advance, the show will have had them thinking again.

For the showbiz veteran easily moved from theme to theme, virtually unprompted by notes - and using distractions in the audience as the trigger for another side-splitting tangent.

In the second half of the show - after a quick-fire appearance as The Rev Rick Utter Lymeswold, singing about his love for “cheeses” - Cryer brought out Baz's Bucket, filled with scraps of papers carrying suggested themes for jokes from members of the audience.

Nothing phased this consummate professional, as he took each idea in his stride.

He seasoned his act with a sprinkle of regional relevance, including: “In Lowestoft, a man fell into a vat of Muesli. He swam for the side, but was dragged back by a strong currant.”

The silver haired comic also gently poked fun at the passing of time, saying: “At my age I don't do drugs. I can get the same effect standing up quickly.”

There were jokes to make you think. “Would the oceans be deeper if there weren't sponges? Is innuendo Italian for suppository?”

And he even told one of the handful of jokes that my children repeat - “Two goldfish in a tank. One says to the other 'how do you drive this thing?'” But somehow, with such polished delivery, it was still funny.

In the best tradition of comedians down the year, Cryer also had plenty to say about marriage, including: “However long you've been with your partner, you still do things that irritate them. Every time I wake up in the morning, my wife says 'I do wish you wouldn't do that'.”

Modern comedy has its fair share of talented rib-ticklers, as Cryer magnanimously acknowledged last night.

But the man who wrote scripts for Morecambe and Wise and Tommy Cooper proved that the old ones are still the best.

Let's hope this “farewell” tour is the first of many.

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