Bill Bailey (2 stars)

This article is from 2006

A big part of Bill Bailey’s appeal down the years is that he has always slapped on a look of bemused befuddleness, as though he really wasn’t sure where he was or why he was there in the first place. As if to scythe this notion down as quickly as it was raised, Bailey’s stand-up act was a razor sharp thesis of the absurd, his musical expertise wielded to technical and hilarious effect and his skewed observations taking on an other-worldly aesthetic while still remembering to be infectiously funny.

Now though, his life-force has clearly slowed up (drained perhaps by stage work and telly) and while he grasps at earlier glories (yes, he does throw in a bit of Chas and Dave), he is a pale imitation of the man who stormed the Fringe in 1996 only to be horribly denied the Perrier by the man who later would become a business associate, Dylan Moran.

While Bailey’s abilities are more or less intact and he insists that it is other people rather he who has changed, his material on George Bush, animal rights and ‘young people’ is half-baked and desperately jaded, something that an earlier, fresher Bill would have chucked out at the first draft stage. He seems most at home when hunched over his keyboard, that untameable mane flapping around his face as he spoofs the EastEnders theme tune or Star Wars riffs. The man who claims to be part troll is now only half funny.

EICC, 668 1688, until 19 Aug, 7.30pm, £6 (£15).