“There’s an element of anarchy about this show,” says Simon Evans, striding onto the stage to the strains of The Sex Pistols, but definitely not adopting that ripped-and-pierced punk-singer aesthetic: the nearest he comes is taking off a well-cut jacket and rolling up some silky shirt sleeves, as he rattles through a beautifully written and delivered rant. No, Evans is far from rotten.
The enduringly dapper comic suggests that this year’s show is a little looser than his regular work, but it’s still a well-formed feast of wordplay. Evans has carved a niche as comedy’s classiest curmudgeon, lambasting millennials, yobs and kids from his weary eyrie on the Sussex coast – but this year his gaze is more sharply focussed, on genius, or the current lack it.
Hence he finds the time here to wander into less comedic areas. As promised/threatened at the top of this show, there is indeed a lengthy passage from the great philosopher/economist John Stuart Mill; the sort of brilliant chap we just don’t produce any more, he reckons.
Smartphone addiction is partially to blame, Evans insists, ignoring the inspiration it took to create such magical devices. A comparison of the 1974 Guinness Book of Records he pored over as a child and the current picture-heavy version also seems fairly damning, but then there are so many more forms of entertainment fighting for our attention these days.
Well, they aren’t all fighting. Evans increasingly resembles a fusty war-movie general: possibly slightly out of touch with what’s happening on the front line, but fun to watch all the same.