Written By: Mark Armstrong
Date: August 12 2018
Location: Empire Theatre, Liverpool, England
Roy Chubby Brown returned to Liverpool last night with a performance at the city’s Empire Theatre.
Having been a fixture of the comedy circuit for decades now, Chubby Brown has built up a loyal following throughout the years, who enjoy his honest, at times very controversial, but undoubtedly hilarious views on life, sex, culture and the ever-changing world. Based on his long line of videos and DVDs dating back to the early 1990s, fans of Chubby know exactly what to expect from his live shows, and this proved to be the case again for this latest performance.
I should mention that the show was preceded by a few musical numbers from Denise Danielle, who performed such songs as Jump, Venus, Rebel Yell, Use Somebody and I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll. It was an unusual warm-up for an evening of stand-up comedy, but it worked well, with most of the songs performed by Danielle matching the generation of those in attendance. Incidentally, the show as a whole is strictly 18+, and if you’ve heard Chubby before, you’ll know why!
After a short break and an amusing mock video showing some of Brown’s career highlights (from one-liners to TV appearances), Chubby himself came to the stage in his trademark helmet and highly-colourful attire, fittingly to match his highly colourful language! Case in point: the anthem for fans to chant at the now-73 year old comedian when he first appears in front of the audience is “You fat b—–d!” It definitely makes for a memorable start to the night, and with Chubby then taking to the microphone, things only progress from there.
Though he occasionally delves into stories and will provide longer jokes, it is the cutting one-liners and the straight-up personal statements that define Chubby’s act, with a heavy emphasis on sexual references and very strong language. Part of the fun from Chubby’s routine comes from the occasional moment where he will provide a thoroughly clean, “regular” joke, only to then chastise the audience for not laughing and thus comment that he will revert to his usual humour. In an age where we’re used to younger comedians providing life observations and using big words, this is something of a throwback to an age when you can sit back and simply enjoy the jokes, which come at a quick-fire pace, one after another. The laughs come often, so much so that it’s easy to forget one particularly cracking statement because another one has replaced it in your memory minutes, or even seconds, later.
Chubby’s shows also take advantage of the right for free speech with opinions that, to be frank, could not be repeated outside of the comedy setting. There is a reason why his marketing material suggests that those who are easily offended should stay away; this is not a negative statement on comedy-goers by any means, but anybody who may be sensitive to potentially controversial viewpoints and terminology will not appreciate this at all. Those who do attend should do so with an open mind, almost akin to a roast, in that you have to expect anything and everything, while reminding yourself that it is only comedy material, designed to elicit laughs and nothing more.
This is something that I was highly aware of beforehand, though, so I was able to take the show for what it was, and for the most part, this was a real comedy treat. Chubby also utilises a number of songs throughout the performance, but far from embarrassing numbers that reduce one’s enjoyment of the show, these tunes only add to the entertainment value. Some are straight-up spoofs (including some fantastic take-offs of Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You and Lukas Graham’s 7 Years), and others are original numbers (one of which rolled through the many women that have received Brown’s attention, to put it politely). It’s easy to forget that between the humour and the spectacle, Chubby is actually a talented piano player and songwriter, having come up with many original yet amusing numbers down the years (even if Brown freely admitted on stage that some of them are “s–te”).
The only downside from the evening concerned the increasingly large number of hecklers who felt the need to interrupt Brown’s act. For movies, this is a staple of live Chubby shows, with the audience member desperate to be on the end of a classic insult from the man himself. This is often restricted to just a couple of shout-outs, but there were quite a few on this night, probably exceeding over five minutes in total. Chubby handled it great, providing back-and-forth that made the attendees look stupid (and they were suitably removed from the premises by security), but it definitely interrupted the flow of the show more often than what would be considered acceptable. I personally didn’t mind too much, but I know there were others on hand who were unfortunate enough to be sat by these people, and they felt that the show as a whole was partly spoiled for them as a result.
Summing this up, most of the people reading this review will already know whether Roy Chubby Brown’s act is suitable for their sense of humour, and if they find that it is a turn-off, then that is highly understandable, even to the man himself. But if you do happen to be a fan of Chubby, or if you are completely open-minded when it comes to stand-up comedy, then this is a hilarious night of entertainment, and your funny bone will be overworked once proceedings come to a close. And speaking of which, stick around until the end for an – ahem! – big finish that will remain locked in your memory for some time!
Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good