Tom Mayhew: From Rags To Slightly Newer Rags (3 stars)

Tom Mayhew: From Rags To Slightly Newer Rags

A sit-down return to the stand-up fray for a comic with a conscience whose young nephew tells it like it is

By now, this a very familiar story. Coming into 2020, Tom Mayhew had the world at his feet with a successful Edinburgh Fringe behind him, radio work under his belt and a busy, glory-laden future beckoning. And then … well, you know what happened next. Mayhew has now dusted himself down after a largely inactive 18 months in which he was prey to a truly awful irony: having begun to make a name for himself and earn decent money with comedy shows about receiving benefits, he then was forced to go, cap in hand, back to the government when that career was curtailed through no fault of his own.

To his credit, he doesn't seem too bitter, and having taken stock Mayhew has returned to the fray with a sit-down stand-up show (he's literally on his sofa for most of it) over Zoom (the economics of which makes perfect sense rather than heading up to Edinburgh when the Fringe is also just getting back up on its feet). In the perfectly titled From Rags To Slightly Newer Rags, the comic reflects on a period which held so much promise but left him feeling as much at sea as the rest of us, with arguably his biggest gig over the piece being a speech he made at a family funeral.

Mayhew makes for good company though he does seem ill at ease with the Zoom set-up, not being able to look many of his audience in the eye when he delivers his punchlines. It's a shame as his chief concerns continue to garner plenty material with money playing a central part: he is especially miffed at rich people who go on Antiques Roadshow and are crestfallen or apathetic at the enormous sums quoted for their heirloom trinkets.

His veiled threat to stop comedy is hopefully not a serious one as he still has plenty to offer once he gets back in front of live audiences. Though we can only hope that his young nephew doesn't turn to comedy journalism as a career given the footage we see of him tearing apart Stewart Lee for his notorious 'crisps' routine.

Tom Mayhew: From Rags To Slightly Newer Rags, Laughing Horse Free Fringe Festival Online, until Monday 30 August, 8pm, Pay What You Can.

Tom Mayhew: From Rags To Slightly Newer Rags

  • 3 stars

Since January '20, Tom Mayhew has sold out West End venues and signed on; he stopped signing on and got a Radio 4 stand-up series. It's been both the most and least successful period of his career. ‘Genuine, powerful, political stuff.' ★★★★ (Scotsman) 'Tory-hating leftie.' ★★★★ (Daily Mail). This is an 18+ event.