YOU’RE on a train. You need the toilet. You go. But what happens next is that awful moment when the electric shutter door slowly opens to reveal someone standing there, horrified.
What do you do? Comedian Jack Whitehall’s advice, when he performed at the Metro Radio Arena, was: “Get it wrong, gotta be strong.
You sit there like you planned it to happen. Fix him with a cold-eyed stare and say, ‘I’ve been expecting you.’”
I chortled out loud while remembering a conversation I’d had with a friend just a few months earlier. “It was dreadful,” she proclaimed. “She just sat there, startled, her tartan skirt around her ankles, the electric door open showing her in all her glory.”
The star’s ability to draw on such incidents and turn them into side-splitting gags is commendable. And the fact they’re delivered in his upper-class tone makes them even funnier.
The 25-year-old southerner, from Westminster – whose full name is Jack Peter Benedict Whitehall – talks about his privileged upbringing in his sketch, but his anecdotes are far from being pretentious. Instead, he refers to a time when, being bullied at school, hequestions his mum’s advice. “You tell them Jack, from the depths of your soul, sticks and stones ...”
“It doesn’t even bloody rhyme,” he joked.
From a large elevated stage in the centre of the arena, Jack – casually dressed in jeans and a checked shirt – reeled the audience in, and when one Geordie guy piped up, Jack shouted: “Can somebody translate that into posh for me!”
Actress Gemma Chan, the comedian’s girlfriend, was a running theme throughout the night, as was Jack’s favourite film, The Lion King. “I have the constitution of a heavily pregnant woman, I cry at everything,” he admitted.
In the grand finale, the star stepped out in a lion costume, and talked about his encounter with a Geordie hen party while on the train coming up north. “It was 8.30am, they were hammered.” And he tries his best to put on a Newcastle accent but to no avail. “I sound Jamaican,” he laughed. 10 mins later he’s still laughing, the crowd are in hysterics, and he’s forgotten the punchline.
It makes it all the more memorable.