A few years ago, a new comedian appeared on Russell Howard’s Good News to perform a short stand-up routine. By the end of it, I had collapsed into a heap on the floor, barely able to breathe for laughing so hard.
So Joel Dommett’s rising success - hosting MTV and Live in Chelsea, and appearing on BBC 3’s Impractical Jokers has therefore been of little surprise to me.
His appearance in the Gatehouse Theatre’s MET Studio – which is a perfect little space for live comedy is part of his first ever UK solo tour.
It does show at times, with nerves creeping through on the odd occasion – leading to some tangents perhaps dragging for longer than their worth. But in a medium that very often concerns itself with overbearing bravado, it just makes him that little bit more endearing.
Dommett is the perfect example of the possibility to raise genuine laughs without necessarily resorting to cruelty or cynicism. Most of the laughs come at his own expense, as he delves cringingly into his memories as a weedy teenager with forays into the worlds of emo and rap (all very relatable to a crowd largely matching his age).
He bravely plays us a rap he wrote and recorded in his younger years, revelling in its ridiculous precociousness and causing howls across the room.
The main running theme of the show is a bitter vendetta against his school bully. This culminates in a hugely gratifying outcome for anyone who was picked on in their school days, not least because of the hilariously ludicrous way in which he deals the revenge.
His sheer affability and ability to poke fun at his own shortcomings are they key ingredients to making this routine work so well – the room is brimming with empathy for the comedian.
His keen interaction with audience members in the first half of the show has probably helped with this. Although there are some twinges of gentle mocking, it is the kind of – for want of a better word – ‘banter’ that takes place between two parties who genuinely like and respect each other.
He beams about how ‘lovely’ he thinks Stafford is, and what a nice time we have all enjoyed together – and it doesn’t even feel like false generic audience pandering. At the end of the show, he invites questions from the audience, engaging everyone in what feels like a warm chat amongst friends, and stops outside to personally thank everyone for coming as we leave. He’s surely the nicest comedian I’ve seen live – so I think I’ll forgive him for nearly giving me an asthma attack on several occasions to date.