Making an audience laugh is no laughing matter. In fact it takes some serious comedic prowess to turn a cold audience into a roaring fire of giggles and that is exactly what funny man David Baddiel does in his new one-man show, My Family: Not the Sitcom, now showing at The Menier Chocolate Factory.
Baddiel loads the show from start to finish with continuous laughter and what’s more it is laughter at his own expense.
My Family: Not the Sitcom is a show of two halves. The first discusses his sex and golf memorabilia-obsessed mother Sarah, who passed away in 2014, with equal tenderness and hilarity.
The second half is dedicated to his father, Colin, who has Pick’s disease, a form of dementia that Baddiel says is more or less an exaggeration of what his father already was – a “sweary blokey man”.
The show also includes photos and video footage of his family, including his daughter, parents and brothers to great effect.
With Baddiel’s no-holds-barred attitude in relaying his mother’s long-term infidelity, including letters and emails, his timing is impeccable and perhaps it is his continued and obvious shock that propels the humour further while encouraging us it’s safe to laugh with him.
The show is a rambunctious, honest love-fest to his parents, who as you leave the theatre you wish you had known too and days later will still laugh at Baddiel’s outrageous anecdotes.
Standing among picture frames filled with family portraits, Baddiel is inviting you in to his life and his family.
But, despite the laughter, the gratuitous swearing and the bawdy banter, there is a bitter-sweet undertone that runs throughout.
This is most markedly seen when Baddiel shows old footage of his father backstage at Wembley Arena, beaming proudly at his son’s success, proving that a father’s approval and a child’s love for their parents goes way beyond character quirks and titillating tales.
Perhaps it is at this point that My Family: Not the Sitcom reveals itself to be more than a series of shocking jokes, but actually a very open, fitting and unconventional eulogy of sorts to his parents.
• My Family: Not the Sitcom runs at the Menier Chocolate Factory until 25 June. Details: 020 7378 1713 or www.menierchocolatefactory.com