This week I was very kindly given free tickets to see Bill Bailey’s #qualmpeddler at the Hammersmith Apollo. It was my first Apollo experience and also my first Bill Bailey experience.
Bailey opened with a brief social commentary video (that would not be out of place tacked on to the “because I read it in the Daily Mail” video) and arrived on stage in a scene of trees, stars, neon highlights and an astroturf lawn- a scene that Bailey referred to as being not too dissimilar to a Japanese dogging park.
Bailey’s presence filled the stage, and he commanded and directed the audience well. He’s humble enough to oft poke fun at himself (“most of you are thinking ‘oh there’s the guy from never mind the mock the week got news for you'”) and has a very self-depreciating tone to his antidotes.
Of all the comedy shows I’ve seen of late (Milton Jones, Russel Howard, Michael MacIntyre) the first half of this show takes the cake for being on another level of greatness. Bailey presented not just a hilarious evening, but a rather poignant mix of humour and astute political commentary.
A great deal of the show focused on instant gratification and cognitive dissonance, which led to the show being both thought-provoking and at the same time, very funny. He presented modern society and politics with a common sense approach, and analysed modern day celebrity status (mainly through discussing pseudo-celeb Chantelle.) The ability of the audience to follow along with exactly what he said about her illustrates his point about the over saturation of some human beings perfectly. He also referred to Will.i.am as a “human papercut.” Ace.
He delved into a very critical rant about our current government (in which he ripped Clegg, Milliband and Cameron to shreds) and after his political rant he paused and with perfect comedic timing added “Hashtag. Just sayin’.” Again, ace.
His take on social media was equally thought provoking and humourous. At one point he pulled a giant wooden stick from the trees and begins poking members of the audience- “this isn’t Facebook poking; this is old school poking. Analogue poking.”
The Downton Abbey reggae remix prompts the most laughs from the crowd, and is a fitting and energetitic end to the first half.
The second half disappointingly wasn’t as lively or thoughtful. It was mainly musical, and whilst Bailey’s interpretations of the Match of Day theme songs were sidesplittingly funny (“if you slow it down and change the key it sounds like a tragic eastern European folk song!”), the second half didn’t carry the same ‘we laugh, but seriously society is in trouble’ aspect to the punch line, which worked so well in the first half.
If you ever get a chance to see this man live, please do go. The evening we went to was being filmed for DVD so def get your hands on it when it comes out; you may even be able to hear my honking goose laugh. A treat indeed!