“It’s not funny!” bellows Rhod Gilbert from the stage of the Hammersmith apollo. He’s got a point.
Looking more like a bouncer on his day off than a traditional comedian, Gilbert doesn’t specialise in jokes. No, what he specialises in is anger.
Watching him perform is an odd experience – he’s pretty funny (as anyone who’s seen the tall Welshman on panel shows can attest) but not necessarily because you’re amused by his act.
A lot of the laughter comes because this raging, vein-popping cauldron-of-fury of a man simply makes you nervous.
“The show is about what my shows are always about: the last year or 18 months of my life,” he growls. “And anybody who knows anything about me, or has seen any of my shows before, won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve had a shit year...”
Gilbert’s act has always been a thinly connected series of over-the-top rants at petty injustice, but with this tour he actually starts to wonder if, perhaps, he has genuine anger-management issues. So the stories we get this time involve him petitioning his friends and family for their opinion.
And, through a series of rambling anecdotes about fight-or-flight reactions, suppressed memories and smoothies (yes, smoothies...) – stories that usually end with him screaming and restraining himself from hitting someone – you learn that, yes, Rhod’s loved ones think he’s a borderline lunatic who “makes Basil Fawlty look like the Dalai Lama”.
His routine about the idiocy of the term ‘panic buying’ is genius (“Have you ever been shopping with your pants full of shit and an erection?”) but other asides jar.
Comedy doesn’t have to be comfortable but some of Gilbert’s nastier bits, especially off-the-cuff moments, feel not only mean-spirited but lazy – when he turns on a Swiss guy in the audience and condemns him for being boring, say, or goes off on a rant about a Telegraph reader’s hair and Eton education.
Speaking of lazy, the title of this tour – The Cat That Looked Like Nicholas Lyndhurst – leads to a slide-show where Gilbert mercilessly mocks pictures fans have sent him of their cats.
You want to shake him by the shoulders and scream, “C’mon, man, you’re better than this!” The DVD wraps with an odd half-hour featurette that sees Gilbert ‘returning’ to his home village of Llanbobl, a downbeat short that leaves you scratching your head at the self-indulgence.
Sorry, Rhod, but that’s really not funny.
You’ll laugh... but often it’s nervously, worried about what Rhod’s going to do next, rather than from proper amusement.