Tom Lucy has an easy-going, laid-back energy and hawkish eye when it comes to crowd work. Half-way into his latest show Melt and he’s discovered that a bloke in the audience has had the same unlikely medical procedure. I'd be quite happy listening to this instead of the rest of the routine.
Knocking through jokes like a bulldozer, Tom ploughs through a series of homespun truths about life as a twenty-something in London (the rent!), his misadventures keeping up with the family, and a wodge of celebrity gossip (Benedict who?). Laughs come quickly but dissipate as soon as they arrive, failing to build on the momentum of the room. It’s as if there’s a sharper, more ambitious version of the show inside the one we’re watching that can’t seem to get out. Unfortunately, a clumsy bit of delivery means a few jokes land awkwardly, with one joke in particular seeming entirely unnecessary.
I think we can all agree we should laugh at racists. Their world view is ridiculous. However it’s not enough to parrot a casually racist joke with the slim disclaimer that it came from the mouth of a problematic relative. At least some effort should be made to frame it, dismantle it, and show the racism for what it is.
There’s no use in me repeating the joke. I don’t think it’s constructive. It appears in a bit about DNA tests, and I assume Tom would know which line I’m referring to if he happens to read this. The rest of the show is perfectly fine without it. Some of the material felt a little old school (I’m doing the hoovering and my girlfriend is surprised!). There’s nothing wrong with that, although you’d hope he’d leave unchecked damaging stereotypes back in the 1970s where they belong.
I doubt Tom had any ill-intention, supposing that we laugh at the character and not the content of the punchline. I’ve no reason not to believe that the relative, or whoever inspired the joke, said it just as Tom says they did. But the set-up was lazy and although the audience laughed, I couldn’t help but wonder who or what they were laughing at. You could laugh at the same joke for all the wrong reasons. He leaves that door open, and I’m sure there’s another version where he shuts it.
It’s not the first time I’ve seen Tom perform and I enjoyed parts of his routine. I don’t think he’s a bad comic. His style is a little old-fashioned, especially for a young comedian, but it’s clear from his patter that he bridges generations with his comedy. There’s decent material in the show. I just think, on this occasion, he fell short.
Read our interview with Tom Lucy here
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