REVIEW: Ken Dodd - Grand Theatre, Blackpool

Comedian Ken Dodd
Comedian Ken Dodd
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Comedy, almost more so than many of the other performance arts, is a highly subjective thing.

What tickles one person’s funny bone can leave another cold, and that was something of my experience of Ken Dodd at the Grand.

As the legendary funny man made his annual return to the resort - in his 60th year of showbiz – I was very aware of being in the minority in finding little of the material laugh-out-loud hilarious as so many others in the audience did... And I’m fairly easy to please in the laughter department.

In recent years, Dodd’s become infamous for his lengthy shows which more often than not go on into the early hours of the next morning and he clearly revels in this.

The second half started at 10pm – three hours after the show began.

While many of the one liners and stories raised little more than an inner grin, as others guffawed around me, I cannot deny the man’s talent in delivery.

But repeatedly harping on about how long your show is will not win you favours when my rear end has been rendered numb by the rather uncomfy seats.

Similarly, I found the numerous somewhat sexual gags made me squirm in my seat.

A reference to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire felt out of date, never mind regular comment on being charged with tax evasion in 1989, some ancient blonde gags and animal noises or raspberry blowing.

With a 60-year showbiz heritage, Dodd will certainly have a lot of material stored in his mind, so it’s perhaps no surprise he losses track at times.

At other moments, he throws out one liners at a speed to rival today’s gag king Tim Vine.

If he cut out a lot of what felt like waffle, padding and self indulgence, there would be a normal length show and people like me would perhaps be more forgiving.

Also on the bill for the Happiness Show, which runs on Sunday nights until November 2, were the fun and talented support acts Andy Eastwood and Steve Arnold - the former something of a modern day George Formby, the latter a juggler whose act, while very good, did seem to jar a bit.

Both were ultimately very likeable and highly skilled.

Pianist, guitarist, flautist and singer Sibie Jones however was something of a jack of all trades, master of none, and I thought I’d been transported back to an early heat of Opportunity Knocks, circa 1987.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s obviously a market still for Dodd’s brand of comedy and I’m happy enough to accept that I’m almost certainly not it.

But it’s a shame that dragging out the show to such an extreme certainly put people off, when somewhere among the waffle is still a very funny man.

* Ken Dodd, Grand Theatre, Blackpool, Sundays until November 2, 7pm.

Tickets from £20 on (01253) 290190.

Anna Cryer