Stand Up And Be Counted at the Southampton Mayflower

Poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah

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Eddie Pierce is a former star, a foul-mouthed comic, bigoted and all too ready to lash-out at those around him. It’s hardly a challenging role for Jim Davidson, the writer and lead performer of this piece. But, judging by the moral of the story, it seems Davidson has turned over a new leaf.

We find Pierce about to headline an AIDS benefit show, an odd place for a self-professed homophobe, but it’s made clear, painfully clear, that Eddie ‘has his reasons’.

The real story here comes from the clash between Eddie’s old school of comedy and the more PC humour of those he shares the bill with, notably Earl T. Richards, the young black star of the comedy scene. Played by established stand up Matt Blaize, Richards is, I suspect, supposed to be a live wire, but Blaize’s uncomfortable shuffling speaks of a man who is out of his comfort zone in the backstage scenes.

Lloyd Hollet’s turn as gay icon Billy Simpson slips firmly into pastiche. Rather than craft a character he seems to prefer a weak impression of Alan Carr. Rachael Barrington fares better in the role of a reality TV star, squeezing all she can from her airhead character.

Thankfully, the show is held together by Clare Kissane and Philip Childs as Eddie’s long suffering wife and put upon road manager, respectively.

Ultimately when, toward the shows climax, Eddie bemoans the prevailing PC attitude and says in the end comedy is ‘just jokes’, you realise this is the problem with the script. The jokes are fine, but the heart and soul are missing.