Saturday, 9 August 2014

Paul Ricketts' West End Story, The Mash House, Edinburgh Fringe 2014

By Ollie Wilson

London man about town Paul Ricketts has been a figure on the Soho scene for a long time - a denizen of the comedy and drinking clubs, late-night bars and other places of iniquity.

Hearing his yarns of 1990s Soho brought the memories flooding back: the lost nights in the Spanish Bar, the Colony Room, Gerry's and shebeens I have half-forgotten, soaking up the rich tapestry of human life and, indeed, being part of it.

Bedford-born Paul made the excellent point that when you move to London no one knows who you are - or were - and, so, incomers can, and often do, "recreate" themselves.

His retelling of his new-found existence as a Soho drinks cadger - with no more than a fiver in his pocket to try to secure a good time with an ingenious array of "birthday blags" - was hilarious.

With an attractive sidekick joining the cause, they embarked on a free birthday binge, regularly gulling men of a certain age into believing it was their birthdays (one or other or both of them posing as half-twins!) - to quaff for free.

Paul has grown as a comedian since those times.

He displayed poise and presence in this show - and I was surprised at the slickness with which he delivered his material. Even a pesky, drunken Glaswegian woman heckler did not throw him off his stride.

His jokes about John Major, David Cameron and Jesus, and the Four States of Cockney were superb. The Tony Blair payoff to his abortive orgy story was an absolute belter.

Perhaps, all comedians have one great show in them. This is certainly Paul Ricketts'.


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