The Return of The Big Laugh In: Labatts Apollo, Manchester, 1991
The Best of The Comedy Store: The Comedy Store, London, 1992
Alan Davies: Jabez Clegg, Manchester, 1998
Alan Davies: Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 2000
Play: The Odd Couple: Assembly on the Mound, Edinburgh, 2005
Alan Davies: Life Is Pain: Venue 150 @ EICC, Edinburgh, 2012
The Ealing Comedy Festival: Walpole Park, Ealing, London, 2016
Headliners Comedy 20th Anniversary Show: George IV pub, Chiswick, London, 2021
QI (TV recording): TV Centre, London, 2023
I have seen Alan Davies live on a number of occasions over the years and have loved his performance every time I have seen him. I first came across him in 1991 early in his career where he stood out amongst a number of comedians at a charity comedy night in Manchester. His trademark routine of wildly describing irritations and acute observations with blistering comic effect was already in evidence but he really came into his own when I saw him at The Comedy Store in London a year later and he received a standing ovation for his routine – quite rare in those days.
I next saw him at the Jabez Clegg club in Manchester in 1998. Davies is a naturally born comic entertainer and he was clearly enjoying himself. So much so that the show over ran and the audience who were thirsty from laughing wanted to go to the bar which was in another room from the stage but without trying to interrupt the show. As the audience silently tried to sneak out of the theatre to get up to go to the bar for last orders, Davies didn’t mind one bit and let the audience know that if people wanted to go to the bar for a drink he would happily stay on stage and talk to the walls instead of talking to the audience. Once this was said there was a mass exodus and three quarters of the 500-filled theatre moved next door to the bar. When they returned to their seats with drinks, Davies was still on stage chatting away to anyone who would listen and carried on performing for another thirty minutes before he left the stage to thunderous cheers and applause. A sign of a true professional – give the audience what they want.
Davies’ star was on the ascent and I next saw him play one of Manchester’s most prestigious venues: The Bridgewater Hall in 2000. I remember this performance for a brilliant observation from the comedian about drunkenly getting home at night time. He described the experience as knowing he was in the right area because he followed the piles of sick on the pavement left by the drunks who lived in the area to find his way home. I could relate to this because I had lived in the same area. He gave a very funny, confident performance that night and was fast becoming a favourite on the comedy circuit.
I next saw him star as Felix Ungar, the fussy, annoying, fastidious friend of Oscar Madison played by Bill Bailey who are forced to live together and get on each other’s nerves in the classic comic play The Odd Couple written by Neil Simon at the Edinburgh Festival in 2005. The two comedians were perfectly cast in this brilliantly scripted classic.
For a few years, Davies concentrated on television work before returning to stand-up in 2012 with a new show Life Is Pain which I saw at the Edinburgh Fringe. Davies seemed calmer on stage this time around but there was still the odd rant. This made the comedy a lot warmer and above all very, very funny. Davies had got the bug again for live comedy which was a pleasure to see and appeared again at the Ealing Comedy Festival as top of the bill with Barry Cryer as MC in 2016. Cryer as usual stormed the gig with wonderful jokes but he mistakenly introduced Davies at the wrong time and confident as ever, Davies ambled onto the stage, warmly shook Cryer’s hand whilst saying to the audience, ‘Yes I’m here, just not yet!’ which the audience loved. When he did eventually appear, he was brilliant and it was a memorable night.
Davies returned triumphantly to live stand-up comedy in September 2021 when he made a guest appearance for Headliners 20th Anniversary Show in London. At the start of his set, he effortlessly made comedy out of a group in the front row who had ordered food. Spending a good five minutes ad-libbing until they finished, he then launched into brilliant routines about being a dad, ageing and medical procedures.
The resident panellist on QI, I watched Davies at a a recording of the long running TV quiz in March 2023 at the TV Centre in London. Davies provided superb answers, jokes and stories to meaningless facts and trivia and proved as ever to be a wonderful foil for host Sandi Toksvig.
It has been very gratifying watching Davies’ stand-up comedy career flourish over the years to become one of the UK’s most likeable and popular comedians.