Richard Soames is a nice guy. Nice to a fault, in fact – he offers audience members tea as they take their seats, but does so via handwritten signs so as not to interrupt their conversations. In the show proper he shares several anecdotes when he’s acted less than nice, but the amount of handwringing and guilt he expresses over them at least demonstrates he’s being a nice guy about it now.
The problem with nice guys is they can be a bit wet. Soames – one quarter of sketch troupe The Beta Males – is fully aware of this, and builds it into the show. But simply acknowledging your lack of edge and then rolling on regardless like a spherical sponge cake doesn’t automatically make for an entertaining hour. (Although having said it, I can’t wait for next year’s show, ‘A Spherical Sponge Cake Rolls Into Things’.)
Soames’s show is not without moments of bold hilarity. An accelerated timeline, set to an increasingly warped version of Coca Cola’s ‘Holidays are Coming’ jingle, is gleefully dark in its depiction of his future, while a third act edition of the game show ‘Ethical Whoopsy’ allows him to unleash his inner bastard on an unsuspected audience member. But these are all-too-brief excursions from his central nice-guy theme, which lacks the backbone to support a whole hour.
Not everyone has to be Frankie Boyle. There’s room for nice guys in the world. But when you’re so nice you won’t even ask the second row to stop chattering through your set, it doesn’t show much confidence in the material. And if Soames doesn’t have that, how are we meant to?