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4.5* Review: Josh Widdicombe – What Do I Do Now? – The Lowry, Salford Quays

Tuesday night saw high-flying young comedian Josh Widdicombe visit Salford as part of his ‘What Do I Do Now?’ tour.

The comic has shot to fame in the past two years becoming a TV regular with his appearances on The Last Leg and Mock The Week and now also stars in his own BBC2 sitcom ‘Josh’.

Despite his recent fame I was still surprised that he could fill the 1,700 capacity Lyric Theatre.

Josh was supported by Ivo Graham, a little-known but equally clean-cut young comedian.

I find that it is especially difficult for younger support acts to get the audience on side, but thanks to Graham’s affable and inoffensive charm he managed it with ease.

However, around 10 minutes in, just at the point he felt the audience were totally with him he dropped the bombshell that he was a young Old Etonian, there was a ripple of mistrust across the audience but the comedian’s almost apologetic manner soon got them back on side. This was a big venue for a fairly unknown comedian, but I believe that we will get used to seeing more of Ivo Graham in the near future.

Josh took over from Graham and soon had the theatre in fits of laughter with some improvised riffing with members of the audience, apparently people from Warrington make ‘Go Faster’ stripes for caravans and our friends in Liverpool will be spending the next five years making a canoe path from their city to Goole.

Josh looked genuinely pleased and astonished that he had managed to pick on two people with such intriguing lives and managed to get lots of laughs from his on the spot conversations with them.

Sometimes comedian’s chats with audience members can become tiresome and flat, but Widdicome seemed to know the exact point at which to cut away from that and crack on with his own material, which consisted of a perfect blend of nostalgic anecdotes of growing up in the mid-90s and exasperated observations of modern life.

The first half of the show careered on with laugh after laugh, I struggle to remember seeing a comedian of late who has left me wishing they would have a brief pause between jokes just so I could catch my breath!

The second half of the show was more themed than the first, the comedian taking a close look at growing up on Dartmoor in the mid-1990s.

Being roughly the same age as Josh Widdicombe I found myself wondering what it meant that I could now relate to pretty much all of the comedian’s nostalgic anecdotes, from what now feels like a quite distant past.

This was particularly true as he recalled the painful struggle of any children who had to climb ‘cabin-bed’ step ladders to go to sleep, wearing button up tracksuit bottoms to school non-uniform days and when he produced a ‘Funfax’ – a Filofax for the business minded 10 year old.

From the opening act to Josh Widdicombe’s encore this was a very funny night, and it was good to see two very young up and coming comedians flourish on such a great platform.

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