Finding myself the only woman in a wall of men flanking the stage right side of Ed Gamble’s audience last night, I was feeling awkward before the show even began. In comparison to last year’s audience, there was a marked contrast in both gender and age ratio; so with Santa in the front row, Gamble in skater shorts and a metal jacket embarked on an hour of appearance, identity and social placement.
The delightful thing about Gamble’s material is the openness with which he embraces where he comes from and how he wants to fit into the world he lives in. These days it’s refreshing to see a comedian who can reference his childhood experience in a private school without embarrassment. Whilst he gently mocks the ‘system’, he does not shy away from having been educated within it, and there is clearly a fondness evident in days past. ‘Mammoth’ is a high energy look at how in adulthood, try as he might, Gamble hasn’t fully emerged from the middle class upbringing he received. Despite his passion for heavy metal music, he recently ran the London marathon, which he points out is such a stereotypical achievement for a chap like himself. With a passionate penchant for Halloumi cheese, and the perception of attending metal gigs and looking like “an undercover Mormon on a conversion mission”, it becomes apparent that we are dealing with a guy who, despite his musical preferences will ultimately always remain attached to the label his TV audience has come to associate him.
The hour is energetic, hysterically awkward and full of locker room humour; a particular example of which draws his hour to a close in a brilliant bit which forces Gamble to reflect on the mortification of adult behaviour with a brilliantly contrasting immature delivery. This is where Gamble shines; in the taking of subject matters which could be delivered in a more mature, reflective fashion and throwing himself into the mindset of a teenager. Man-child comedy at its best!
This said, Gamble has constructed some more challenging material on world religion which is painfully current but lands with an initial shock which he manages through his charismatic delivery, to transform into ironically one of the most unified moments of amusement amongst the audience. It’s ballsy stuff, which combined with the edgy, instant response to a somewhat arrogant audience heckle, proves that the youthful looking, privately educated man in front of us could easily hold his own in the mosh pit despite what you might think. In a way that awkward moment actually reinforced the entire point of the show. The punter in question clearly wasn’t a plant but the outcome brought an extra level of amusement to what is already a highly entertaining show. If the riskier material is a sign of what’s next for Gamble’s stand-up I’m looking forward to it. Who is the grown up? What matters to him? Only time will tell.