‘Are there any teenagers here?’ asks Miranda Hart, looking remarkably at ease on the O2 stage. A massive scream echoes back from the 16,000-strong crowd. This isn’t your average comedy audience…
But then ‘My, What I Call, Live Show’ – Hart’s first return to stand-up since her wildly popular sitcom aired – isn’t really a stand-up gig at all. ‘This isn’t just a show,’ she insists. ‘This is a party.’ Complete with snacks and balloons. And like any party where Doritos and After Eights are the buffet-table highlights, it’s lightly titillating, slightly awkward – and you’re definitely ready to leave by 10pm.
The ‘party’ theme is Hart’s (very loose) hook, allowing her to veer off into stories of social awkwardness, observations on duvet covers and a whirlwind of fart jokes. It’s also an excuse to simply have a big communal sing-song and dance break (yes, this actually happens). It’s all ‘such fun!’, as her catchphrase reminds us, but material-wise it’s weaker than birthday party lemon squash.
The 41-year-old comic’s departure from the live comedy scene is evident in her observations. I’ve lost count of the number of routines I’ve heard about teenagers’ low-slung jeans, silly walks and accidentally breaking wind. Where the sitcom character ends and the real Miranda begins is befuddled too. She tells anecdotes about her recent recognisability, but most of her stories ring so painfully untrue that they feel like offcuts from her TV series.
Of course, this is criticism from the comedy purist in me; and to the thousands of families coming to see Hart – many no doubt attending their first comedy gig – it’s irrelevant. What sells ‘My, What I Call, Live Show’ is Hart’s exuberant delivery: joyful and excited, like a six-year-old high on Haribos. She’s a marvellous physical comic too, playing up her inelegance at any given opportunity. But what she excels at, something many comics have struggled with, is utilising an arena space. Rather than just using the giant screens to provide us with a closer view, she throws well-timed looks and gestures to camera, giving the live experience the same feel as her BBC One show – and it works a treat.
‘My, What I Call, Live Show’ is about as comedically innovative as a whoopee cushion. But as light entertainment, it’s quite fun.