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Ricky who? Stephen Merchant shines in Hello Ladies

Posted on 09 November 2011 by Neil Paterson

Wolverhampton Civic Hall, 5th November 2011

Like The X Factor without a twat, it’s hard to imagine Stephen Merchant without Ricky Gervais. And yet it transpires Smerch was a stand-up in his own right before he met the stubbly, stumpy saviour of British comedy.

So with Hello Ladies, his first stand-up since 1997, could the 6ft 7in Bristolian shine despite the shadow of his famous mate?

Any doubts were put aside in moments, the audience in raptures as he recalls his first appearance in the press in which his lofty frame was literally cut short. Whilst his style takes more than a nod and a wink from Gervais (ironic references to his fame, awards, etc), he comes across as a warmer, more personable act with laugh-til-your face-aches anecdotes and observational wit in spades.

Topics were loosely based on the idea of his inability to find a wife but in reality this was an excuse to give an unexpected masterclass in stand-up. And it included the funniest moment in pitch black since Alan Partridge met Jill’s chocolate mousse.