Review: Chris McCausland – Yonks

David Floyd reviews the comedian’s show at artsdepot

Promotional image for Yonks by Chris McCausland

Chris McCausland quips at the beginning of his set that the show’s title Yonks was decided before he’d written the content and is therefore as meaningless as what follows.

This is both typical of his lightly dry self deprecating delivery and also partly true.

Only partly because, as he goes on to discuss, ‘yonks’ is not a meaningless word. 

It means a long time in a non-specific way. And this, in a broadly positive sense, is actually about as accurate a description of his set as you could get.

It runs for nearly an hour and a half. It’s not boring or annoying, and covers a massive range of topics: from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rural Austrian accent to prostate examinations. 

But it’s neither a quick fire barrage of jokes, a series of reflections on a recurring theme or a Stewart Lee-meandre towards a big finish. 

It’s an engaging, mostly interesting, man saying lots of different stuff – some of which is funny. 

The night at artsdepot was opened by Lincolnshire singing standup Jon Long, whose set included songs about dog abduction and sexing up environmentalism.

He mused affably on recurring themes including family political disputes – and just stopped shortly of conducting an audience survey on oral sex participation rates.

This affable outlook is also a notable feature of McCausland’s headline set. 

He jokes about how, as a blind comedian, he’s been hired for events such as the Royal Variety Show to up the disability quota. 

And some of the funniest material is about the challenges of his disability, whether talking about Brian Conley telling him which direction to wave on the Queen’s Jubilee open top bus trip – or the necessary annoyance of TV audio description. 

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But with much of the other material he seems (despite the length of the set) to under commit to the actual comedy. It’s lots and lots of seemingly unconnected strands, none of which are explored in much depth. 

He talks about buying a turnip for the first time as an adult and the difficulty of attempting to prepare it but fails to take us to the kind of elongated surreal conclusion that would make it laugh out loud funny (for most of the audience). 

Time that could’ve been spent generating more laughs from material about the Germans refusing to let Schwarzenegger dub his films in German because of his rural Austrian accent is wasted detailing incidental biographical facts.

Overall, while giving the impression of being a man having a chat with the audience as much as being a comedian is likely to be intentional – for it to really work, McCausland needs to get to the point of giving that impression without it being true. 

Having previously only seen McCausland on TV panel shows, I was unsure what to expect from the leap to a lengthy theatre set. 

By the end I was still slightly unsure about what to make of it. 

Being able to sit on a chair, talking to a large paying audience for more than an hour without making them really bored or actively annoyed is a genuine skill – and McCausland achieves that. But I hope his next show will be better. 

Chris McCausland’s Yonks was at artsdepot on Thursday April 4thinfo on upcoming events at artsdepot is available here.

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