Clive James is the master of the informal chat. He makes the whole thing look so easy.
As he ambles onto the stage in somebody else's tie with a honey coloured jacket and balding to boot, you can't help warming to him.
It's like sitting down with a favourite uncle and, as he doesn't stick to the point, or allow truth to stand in the way of a good tale, he plays the part to perfection.
But as he keeps on reminding us, the ultimate aim of the evening is to plug the new book The Meaning of Recognition - a much more literary and philosophical tome than you might expect in the light of his television offerings.
It's his own ability to laugh not only at the world, but also himself, which makes him such good company and ultimately such a useful commentator.