Danny ‘Slim’ Gray and Richard Blackwood
Show Rating: ****
Saturday 28th July 2018
Produced and Promoted by Alpo R, Charlie Kenny & Geestor Productions
After a 3 year sojourn onto prime time TV, with only fleeting stand up comedy appearances during this period, Richard Blackwood, was earlier this year freed from the shackles of Walford, London E18, aka Eastender. A few months on from his departure, Richard Blackwood found himself back in the real Eastend of London, on stage at the Hackney Empire. This was the prestigious setting for his return to his stand up comedy roots. It was going to be fascinating to see how Richard Blackwood fared. Could he still cut it or had the seriousness and somewhat dourness of Eastenders, blunted his cutting edge stand up?
His set covered a number of light hearted themes relating to dating and the sort of past experiences and quantity of relationships men can get away with, that women just can’t. We’ll not without gaining a bad reputation anyway! In a very amusing way he highlighted the double standards and one of the main differences surrounding how men and women perceive one another. What is considered acceptable or not depending on your gender. In other words, men are “allowed” to have had a past, yet a woman with a “busy” past love life is generally not viewed in quite such a favourable way by men or women.
A variation on this theme was explored as he spoke about his encounter with heavyweight boxing champion Anthony “AJ” Joshua in a restaurant. This was an opportunity to showcase one of Richard Blackwood’s comedic strength’s, his highly animated storytelling technique that leaves you in no doubt about the situation he is in and wishes to paint a picture of, namely, the huge size and height of Anthony Joshua when stood beside mere mortals of “average size and height” such as himself and the woman he was enjoying a night out with.
He also had fun with the Kiki dance craze which apparently is the latest “thing.” I gather it’s a female dance, but men can get away with doing it, so long as it’s performed in a manly way, but when they do it in the effeminate way Richard demonstrated the results were quite hilarious.
There was a lot of warmth in the room for Richard (and not just because it was an incredibly hot venue and night either) as it was great to see Richard back on stage doing what he does best. He told us to expect big things in November so we shall just have to wait and see where the next installment in Richard’s career takes him.
Slim continued the sporting theme with his boxing and world cup anecdotes. He got off to a rip roaring opener by comparing football, which he’s not a big fan of, to boxing, which, like many comedians, he’s a huge fan of. He said he couldn’t support a team who’d been losing for 8 years and with that in mind had unfriended on Facebook, a well known former Olympic heavyweight boxing champion! That had the audience in stitches as he elaborated on why he had done this.
He had a simple explanation for his preference for boxing and aversion to the team sport of football. In boxing, as per being a stand up comedian, you are on your own on stage/in the ring; un-reliant on team mates who might let you down. You can see the clear affinity with boxing and comedy for those who prefer not to be a team player and stand or fall on their own merits.
On a more touching, sympathetic note, we learnt how he’d recently spent 8 years looking after his old man as his life neared its final act. However Slim being Slim he wasn’t playing the sympathy card or expecting his audience to get the violins out. Shockingly and in a strangely funny way he said, “it was time for him to go” when he passed away two years ago in 2016. He had lived to the grand old age of 94, having been born in 1922, just a few years after World War I ended. He focused on his dad’s final years to highlight how men want women, not a man, to look after them in their old age/dotage and therein perhaps lay the source of humour around a sad event.
On a more political note he talked about the recent Windrush scandal and how impressed he was by the passionate, eloquently put anger of David Lammy MP, joking that before making that impassioned speech he must have popped in for a West Indian take-away en route to parliament.
As he often does, but this time with more poignancy, he focused on the gun crime in the capital and put the emphasis firmly on the need for parents to take serious responsibility for raising their children; pointing out the critical importance of strict parenting that is demonstrated via setting and maintaining strict boundaries. You are the adult, the parent, not your child’s friend. He speaks from hard earned experience as a father of 5 and in a touching gesture he brought one of his son’s and daughter’s onto the stage at the end of the show.
Entertainer and host for the night Eddie Kadi was on fine form with his flexible, loose limbed dancing moves amusing the audience.
A highlight of the night was hearing Cellist Ayana Witter-Johnson playing and singing her own versions of The Police’s ‘Roxanne’ and Omar’s ‘There’s nothing like this’. Hearing a song from my favourite band of all time in the Hackney Empire is the last thing I expected and made my night!
I can’t see that the Bad Boys II relates to the behaviour of its stars, but the running themes of the show were bad boys – from footballers cheating on the pitch during the world cup, bad boy boxers, casanova’s and criminals.
Danny ‘Slim’ Gray and Richard Blackwood have been in the comedy business for 25 years now and this show was a fitting tribute to both men’s staying power, longevity and ability to keep things moving and fresh. In a show full of great jokes, entertainingly told anecdotes, music, along with some serious social commentary Danny ‘Slim’ Gray and Richard Blackwood demonstrated via great humour and masterful joke telling ability, just why, after 25 years, they are still at the top of their game, selling out big venue’s like the Hackney Empire.
© Tiemo Talk of the Town