“Contentment is knowing you’re right. Happiness is knowing someone else is wrong.” This was just one of the many nuggets of brilliance given to a Leicester Square Theatre audience by talented comedian and musician Bill Bailey at his live show, ‘Bill Bailey: Unplugged’. In his latest live show, he highlighted again his flair for variety, beginning at Guardian-installed guilt, and concluding with German metal covers of ABBA.
He opened with a fantastic display of anxiety with regards to “where does our food REALLY come from”, and moved swiftly on to explain why we need the Daily Mail (at least as a side bar as a break from reading something worthier). He then jumped beard-first into politics, describing the ageless, embossed face of David Cameron, the transparent, flimsy nature of Clegg and comparing Ed Miliband to “a plastic bag up a tree; no one knows how he got there and no one can be bothered to get him down.” To his credit, he skated between these different topics at rocket speed, something fans of his are very familiar with, however he was even more jumpy than normal at this show, breaking at intermittent moments to play himself a calming tune on the Sitar.
An under-appreciated quality of Bill Bailey’s comedy is his improvisation, particularly with his music, something he really shone at in this show. The best example of this came right at the opening when he devised a game show entitled ‘Wheel of Irony’, and even managed a theme tune to match. Bill Bailey uses the variety he creates so well that, whilst being hard to follow at times, the audience begin to feel like they’re on a roller-coaster, swooping up and down the track.
After a stomach-splitting anecdote about the Northern Lights, his father-in-law’s return from death and a rather lazy group of Norwegian running dogs, he brought the show to a charming end with a play through of the Downtown Abbey theme. It was of course, in typical Bailey style, remixed with into reggae with brief voice clips from the show describing different kinds of spoons and the appropriate heights of footmen. Despite the fact that any attempt to linearly follow the show would cause you to feel like a cat attempting to catch the dot of a red laser pointer, ‘Bill Bailey: Unplugged’ is a real treat from the ludicrously rehearsed list of mildly embarrassing tales that a lot of live comedy shows have evolved into. With sitars, left wing opinions and a little German metal music thrown in, what more could one expect from Bill Bailey?