A late Saturday night at the Classic studio has our audience gathered to see Scottish comedian Chris Henry. The premise of his show Around the World in 80 Dates is that of a 40-year-old man who has been single for a decade and has compiled a list of 80 dates he wants to experience around the world with that special someone.
Henry enters to a bombastic, bass heavy version of what sounds like The Greatest Showman’s ‘The Greatest Show’ dressed like a tartan-clad circus ringleader. He is energetic and confident and appears excited to entertain this evening’s crowd. He sets off on a brief but humorous summary of himself and the show, using PowerPoint and recorded audio.
The show itself had ups and downs, much like a cardiogram of the heart this show is so thematically centred on. Two primary and technical ones, in the majority, had nothing to do with Henry at all. A lot of his show relied on audio cues along with visual projection, but – at enough times for it to be noticeable – the sound would come in a beat too late for the visual cue. This would interrupt the flow and undercut a few of the punchlines for which the audio was necessary. Similarly, Henry was working with a difficult audience. A crowd of what appeared to be mostly boomers and older millennials, they did not appear to have wanted to come to a comedy show that evening at all. Nevertheless, in both of these instances Henry soldiered on. He was very good at working with what little the audience gave him and rolling with improvisation to elicit genuine laughs.
Knowing little of Henry’s prior comedy, it was difficult to figure out immediately what his style or his central ideas around love were going to turn out to be. Near the beginning, Henry nearly lost me when talking about an ex-girlfriend – his last ex-girlfriend – and his behaviour towards her that read as extremely toxic. However, he won me back by admitting that he now knows how toxic he was. That his behaviour a decade ago is a big part of why he hasn’t been in a relationship for a decade, and why he has worked to change and improve himself as a person and a man. He continued to win me over by using the rest of the show to condemn toxic masculinity and use his set as an opportunity to, in his words, educate other men on how to be better.
His self-awareness and position as a feminist ally through the show was a highly enjoyable surprise. His best moments came when he made insightful and refreshing remarks about relationships and the dating scene in general, such as criticising the societal disregard for women over 40 and lambasting younger men for their inability to communicate respectfully over dating apps. He endears himself as the show progresses, to the point where you hope this man who has learnt and grown and who wants to help other men learn and grow will eventually achieve his goal.
Henry’s show his honest, entertaining and exuberant. He ends with a final impactful moment of vulnerability, removing the circus get-up and taking his exit to The Greatest Showman’s ‘This Is Me’ – a thematic musical progression that helps quintessentially summarise Henry’s set and his personal journey.
Who: Chris Henry
When: 4th, 11th, 18th May
Where: The Classic Studio
Review by Grace Hood-Edwards