Josh Howie's Messed Up
Leicester Comedy Festival, February 2017
Josh Howie took the stage with the reassuring calm confidence of an experienced comic who knows he has a good show and is going to relax and entertain us for an hour. He didn't disappoint. What followed was over an hour of great-value comedy, solid material that had been tried and trusted, peppered with selected audience-riffing to engage and include everyone. Everyone, that is, who has children, or can share a fondness for the general subject of parenthood. To be fair his pre-show promotional material does elude to his subject matter to a degree, and he did go to the trouble of asking almost every member of the small, early-evening audience if they had children, how many, their ages, etc. and it did seem as though everybody was on board for the ride so he can be excused in the main for perhaps indulging a little too much on the subject of being a dad.
With what appeared to be a very personal and honest set Howie proceeded to portray himself, successfully, as a devoted father and husband, while pseudo-shocking us with horrific anecdotes that we interpret as jokes amomgst the reality. This careful creation of an anti-version of the perfect husband builds with careful structure towards the final routine where we realise he is not just a stand-up comedian but has lead us quite expertly through a little window of theatre for an hour or so, and we love him for it.
But there was no real spark about the show, there was very little eagerness or desire to excite. The material was funny but not hilarious, the delivery confident but not surprising. This felt, perhaps, a little like a circuit comic delivering his favourite routine on his day off, so he wasn't really prepared to try anything new, or tailor things to the occasion. It can sometimes be a fine line between effortless and jaded, and although this utter professional could doubtless control and entertain whatever kind of audience he faced and at any kind of venue, he didn't really bring anything new to the table and as such can reasonably be described as 'good', 'reliable' and 'funny', but not really anything more superlative than that. As long as he is happy with that we have what could be described as a win/win situation.