Julian Clary enters the Lowry on roller skates, wearing a bright orange suit with black braiding and immediately gets a member of the audience up on stage to help him remove the skates. This set the pattern for the evening where audience participation alternates with outrageous stories from his celebrity hobnobbing and his alleged sexual shenanigans.
Early on he refers to the infamous incident which set back his live TV career when he made a very sexual joke at the British Comedy Awards at the expense of a Tory cabinet minister. He cleverly mentioned that his last appearance in Manchester had been at the M.E.N arena in front of thousands “ and now “ said with withering scorn “ look at me. “
He has done his homework and made many local references such as saying he was “ naked as the day I was last arrested in Heaton Park“ and talking about a well known local gay pub. He does an extended skit where he described the therapy he needed to recover from the brutal punishment he received in his schooldays at a strict Catholic school he called “ St Nancy’s of the probably theatrical.“ This is funny but hugely scatological.
The second half sees more audience participation, as two male audience members are quickly chosen for a competition which evokes the memory of his well known game show Sticky Moments. This proves to be the most outrageous part of the whole evening, as Clary appears to remove objects from various intimate orifices to a mixture of shock and amusement on the part of the audience.
The show is a balance between cutting edge and outrageously funny, after all this is Julian Clary and he knows what his audience expects from him. His comic timing is exquisite, he refers to an alleged documentary on BBC 2 that was about Sarah Ferguson’s achievements. He said “ It started at 9pm “ and after a delicious pause says “ and finished at five past 9."
Even at 50, he remains the master of the double entendre and delivers with panache and such aplomb that you are laughing almost before you realise the pun and the sometimes scatological nature of the comment.
The encore sees him bring his two dogs on to the stage, Valerie and Albert (whom he had earlier dubbed jism). This enables him to recall his famous dog Fanny who used to perform with him when he was known in his earliest incarnation as the Joan Collins Fan Club.
Whilst some of the more definitively gay sexual references are met with less robust laughter, this remains a fine performance from a master comedian at the top of his game. The audience on the night I attended gave him a warm response and the two hours pass by very quickly, due to his quick wit.