Legends of mirth, Phil Cool and Richard Digance, are coming to the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre. I, like many who’ve bumbled through a university in the last ten years, first came across Digance on Countdown. I was always impressed and alarmed by his capacity to turn almost anything into a chipper limerick. I first came across Phil Cool, without knowing it, at the same time. An insatiable appetite for procrastination at university led me to watch Spitting Image from the beginning and there - under the vocal guise of Thatcher, Howard and Scargill - was Phil Cool. The elastic-faced and flexi-voiced Lancastrian comedian who, like Digance, is a stalwart of the comedy circuit.
A cursory look at the careers of these two performers shows that both have grafted and diversified to reach the top of their game. These days, I say with the ripest of grumbly voices, there are so many more vehicles for stand-up comedians. It’s still competitive, but the rewards can be so much sweeter. Shows like Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow introduce acts to millions overnight. The taste for the panel-show format is as inexhaustible as the game-show once was. Topical semi-impromptu gassing has never been more the thing and it’s comedians who pad out the format week after week. At the same time, the need for opinion on increasingly bizarre lifestyle-based programming which slips from war to hummus in a sentence means that comics are the only people with smooth enough segues to fill this gap. It’s a good time to be a comic.
But it was not always thus. When Cool and Digance made their way up the unforgivingly greasy mic-stand, although there was prime-time exposure and there were game-shows, the road was longer and more stripes had to be earned in small venues and on the road. And it is in this environment that it is best to see these two performers. Both anarchic and well-crafted by turns, they are consummately professional and your much-needed mirth is ensured in their hands. Come and see them in the plush intimacy of the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre and see two performers of rare gifts with innumerable shows on TV, radio and on stage – most delightfully manipulating their names into the title, like Cool It, Cool It Too or, my favourite, Abracadigance.