Jack Whitehall, Phones4u Arena, Saturday 8 March
Monday 10th March 2014 @ 08:00 by Max Wieland


Such is Jack Whitehall’s popularity at the moment that the thousands who descended to see him in action last Saturday were brought to a complete stand-still.

Entrances were that congested that a delay of almost half an hour was added to the initial proceedings until the majority of the audience made it to their seats.

And for a comedian who at just 25 was playing his biggest ever gig to a near sold-out 21,000 capacity Phones4U Arena – that is some mean feat.

His entrance was rather familiar to those that have taken to him since joining game show ‘A League of Their Own’ as a panellist in 2012.

But what took the vast audience aback a most was Whitehall’s rather local knowledge of a city he had clambering to his every word.

Think Peter Kay’s younger brother with a funny accent and your about halfway there.

His entrance on a Segway being smothered by confetti was typical Whitehall, but what followed wasn’t.

Gags about the city endeared the audience to him even more with comparisons to his native London.

For the tube, we have the trams, Notting Hill, we have Alderley Edge, the London Eye, “pah, behold the roof of Primark” he barks as he jests about the Piccadilly Wheel and a hipster dinner party friend is “so Northern Quarter it hurts.”

Or for those even more Mancunian than that, good old Ancoats.

As a brief former University of Manchester student, Whitehall knew the city well and his comparisons and teases were the perfect ice-breaker for a comedian who was attempting a UK first for a solo stand-up tour by performing in the round.

Whether other comedians will follow suit remains to be seen but for the large part, it worked.

Granted, he was constantly pacing around as if he was following a car at Spaghetti Junction but the large abundance of screens dotted above his minute circular stage renders the previous comment redundant.

As with any comedian performing at an Arena, even if you’re on the front row, there comes a point when you need to invest time in one of the screens on offer as it’s the facial expressions that generally aid most comedic routines.

And with Whitehall it was no different, from the dangers of modern technology, in which he guides us through accidentally video calling his mum whilst using a urinal and the dangers of automatic doors when using train toilets to the obsessive nature of Britons with things that are free.

His depiction of a typical Brit contemplating the most dubious of items just because it is free was summed up well with his comparison of using a budget airline to that of using one such as Lufthansa, where his singing and almost Michael McIntyre melodic tale of eating a cheese strudel almost set the UK’s flood warnings to red once more such was the chorus of eyes watering at his biggest gig to date.

Nothing felt out of place and a recurring theme of his love for all things Lion King was perfectly summed up with an epic finale which left the audience in no doubt that the show was over.

And at just over 90 minutes long Whitehall did more than enough to leave Manchester for Liverpool with his popularity intact and with the increasing likelihood that the next time he returns, those entering the Arena will be brought to a stand-still once more.