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Jim Davidson, Sands Centre, Carlisle | reviews, news & interviews

Jim Davidson, Sands Centre, Carlisle

Jim Davidson, Sands Centre, Carlisle

Terrific gagmeister who delights in giving offence

Jim Davidson talks about his 'annus horribilis'

Well, here’s a first; I was taken to a comic’s dressing room to be checked out before I could review his show. There was a mix-up over tickets for Jim Davidson so the front-of-house manager asked him If he would give the OK to let me in. “He wants  to see you,” he said.

After a few minutes of Davidson telling me he doesn’t read his reviews, how awful journalists are and how he now couldn’t do jokes about Guardian readers, lesbians and immigrants (he did all three), he took me to the bar and bought me a drink while we talked about both growing up in south London.

I wish, then, I could say that I enjoyed the show more than I did, as it promises so much. In January 2013, just before he was booked to appear on Celebrity Big Brother, Davidson – a huge television star in the 1980s – was arrested as part of Operation Yewtree, the investigation that followed in the wake of the revelations about Jimmy Savile’s appalling crimes against children and vulnerable adults. Davidson’s show, No Further Action, is largely about his annus horribilis – a gift of a gag he strangely fails to make – when he fought to clear his name about allegations of sexual assaults against women in their twenties (which he strongly denies) and for which he was never charged, resulting in the police telling him no further action would be taken.

When he talks about 2013, and the issues that his arrest raises, Davidson keeps our attention, containing his anger and making some sly comedy out of it. Dressed smartly with matching tie and pocket handkerchief, he comes on stage saying: “I bought this for court... I’m not going to waste it.” It’s the start of a lot of some really likeable conversational comedy, in which he roundly insults his audience, but for which he has done some local research – Workington gets it in the neck, much to the pleasure of the crowd.

Davidson is a great raconteur and has an ear for accents, and we get a wide range here. Much of the humour is saucy to filthy – there’s a terrific joke about sharing a bed with his father and one of them having an erection –  with some scatological jokes thrown in for good measure.

But every time he tells a cracking joke it’s followed by something trite, crude or offensive. And I’d be prepared to believe Davidson saying he’s neither racist nor homophobic if it weren’t for his use of the word “darkies” when talking about Africans and the phrase “rug-muncher” to describe lesbians.

His politics are inconsistent, too. Bewailing the fact that he’s now “an ethnic minority in my own country”, he then tells us he wouldn't take part in Comic Relief because it was helping Africans, "when there's plenty of black people in this country who need help". Actually, I'm pretty sure that "university-educated cunts" Ben Elton and Adrian Edmondson never asked.

Davidson is a terrific gagmeister with masterful timing, and he crafts some memorable phrases – when he was drunk, his dad’s false teeth “spoke a different language”. But he’s too often offensive for the sake of it and what could have been a sober and witty reflection on the price of fame ends up as an attack on those parts of society he thoroughly dislikes – of which I am proud to be one. But thanks for the drink, Jim.

  • Jim Davidson is touring until 1 February 2015
I wish I could say that I enjoyed the show more than I did, as it promises so much


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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