At thirty years old, Rob Beckett seems to have “made it”. He’s broken into that second-to-top tier of comics who people just know. When talking to friends in the days before seeing Beckett the mention of his name was met with confused faces, but ‘the guy with all the teeth’, and a quick google of his gnashers (plus the rest of his face) were met with a familiar ‘Oh, him!’
After seeing him at The Redgrave Theatre, packed out with Bristol locals of all ages, Beckett certainly deserves even more recognition than his regular panel show appearances have garnered him. From the start of the show his energy was perfect. He was relaxed but not lazy and oozing with the cockney swagger which the show relies on heavily. Beckett shows all the trademarks of a professional comedian; playing on the upmarket Clifton area surrounding the Redgrave, he joked that it was ‘too posh’ and he had to go to Southmead to ‘chill out’. Within minutes he had befriended the front row, and he continued to link jokes back to them for the rest of his hour and a half set. Comedy should never be about ticking boxes, but crowd banter and jokes tailored to the venue are small indications of a comic who knows what he’s doing and is putting the effort in.
Even more impressive was Beckett’s ability to improvise with the crowd on a huge array of subjects. The first half felt less like a carefully crafted routine and more like a series of spontaneous outbursts on subjects ranging from horses to driving via drinking and DIY, and all of these topics were inspired by the front rows’ occupations as opposed to any forethought. And yet every five minute ‘routine’ was well crafted and, more importantly, hilarious. Either Beckett has pre-prepared skits up his sleeve for as many topics as possible, in the vein of Mock The Week’s ‘Wheel Of News’, or he is indeed incredibly quick and well endowed in the anecdote department.
The icing on the cake was Beckett’s personality and character. It’s not hard to find this young, South London gent incredibly likeable and down to earth, especially when he spies someone eating pick’n’mix in the front row and asks them to ‘chuck me a snake’. Both the material and the delivery was relatable and fun; at times it felt like watching Jay from The Inbetweeners tell jokes written by Will from The Inbetweeners.
Beckett was offstage for a mere few seconds before returning for an encore; he knows what the audience is here for and he appreciates that, and in turn the audience certainly appreciated him. After a couple of minutes about his boredom in the daytime, some audiences might envy him for his freedom from the day to day slog, but watching him you feel as though he must put so much effort into his work beyond the performances we see each night. In a true show of appreciation to his audience, the man himself was there at the door to shake everyone’s hand as they left. Likeable, loveable, and a true professional.