Review Date: March 12 2020
Performance: March 12 2020
Location: Unity Theatre, Liverpool
Duration: 120 Mins inc. Opening Act & Interval
Age Rating: 14+
Tom Rosenthal isn’t a comedian I was completely familiar with, aside from the odd watching of various shows he’s starred in over the years, but his comedy style proved to be a delight when he brought his Manhood show (which debuted at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival) to Liverpool’s Unity Theatre last night.
I was pretty surprised when Tom bumbled onto the stage fairly quickly, before his warm up act, to greet the audience. During this time, he got to know some of the audience members, apologised for being “not as tall as people thought” or for his voice “sounding like that” and expressed a hint of fear over the Coronavirus. This little taste of what was to come got the crowd laughing and ensured a great round of applause for the warm-up act, Naz Osmanoglu. Naz began by talking about the fact he is both English and Turkish, weaving stories of his very English mother and Turkish father (whose made up expressions received a laugh from the audience) and then went on to discuss how his father is “a little bit racist” (through a story of a time when he and his family were at a restaurant). Naz ended his set with a story about living alone, and ordering far too many takeaways, something which must’ve resonated with a lot of the crowd judging by the laughter. Naz was well-received and he got the audience ready for the main event.
After a few minutes of visuals, primarily of Tom dancing in three different, quirky outfits, he returned to the stage to great cheers and applause, which he appreciated massively. Immediately, he let the crowd know that he was here to “avenge the theft of my foreskin”, as he explained that he had been circumcised at just a few days old. He then went on to explain, despite his face and name, that this procedure was done for “hygiene reasons” as opposed to religious reasons (though, he assured the audience, he’s happily “kosher for cash”, as some of his acting roles have come his way because of his moniker), which is just one of the many attitudes to the procedure he debunks in a way that had the crowd howling with laughter.
Tom continually suggested that he might not be the funniest but he definitely was the “best researched” comedian around, which he backed up in what he called “a TED talk about my penis” through videos, charts and conversations with respected scientists. I’ve not seen a comedian use props like this before but, in Tom’s case, this made the performance both incredibly informative (as the audience left with plenty of things to Google search, as well as some other things that probably shouldn’t be!) and extremely entertaining. As well as the science behind the procedure, Tom wove in stories about how it has impacted his life and relationships and this gave the performance a personal, sensitive feel. He is incredibly frank about the effects of his circumcision on his teenage years, and he also mentions his OCD, and he wonders if the two are connected.
Though the night was very much about Tom, he ensured that he engaged with the crowd throughout which made the set even more entertaining, as it was apparent that some of the audience were itching to get involved and have their voices heard, and led to some hilarious back and forth between Tom and the audience. He concluded the show through the words of a conversation with a scientist, making the gig informative and theatrical throughout.
Whilst my knowledge of Tom Rosenthal and his comedic style is lacking, I’m well aware (after this performance) that he is a comedian we should pay attention to. He exceeded my expectations, mainly because I had no idea what to expect, with a comedic style which is both extremely awkward and incredibly self aware. Once he got over his initial apprehension (which no doubt comes with discussing extremely personal matters), he talked about anything and everything. The Liverpool audience, many of whom had already seen the show in a previous run, loved his performance from start to finish. When his routine concluded, I wanted to hear more, which is a definite indication of a brilliant performance.
Tom Rosenthal might be new to me, but he certainly was worth watching, and I would encourage people to go and watch him when he comes to your local auditorium because he was fantastic! Though, as he mentioned at the start of his set, the Coronavirus puts doubt on future events like this one, I would urge anyone to support what Rosenthal does next, whether it be going to his next tour dates or simply sitting down to watch new episodes of Friday Night Dinner.
Target Audience: 16+
Content: Some Strong Language, Sex References & References To Medical Procedures
Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good
For more information about Tom Rosenthal, click here.