Hal Cruttenden: Tough Luvvie: The Udderbelly, South Bank, London: Review

Kat Pope June 7, 2013

Hal Cruttenden
Hal Cruttenden

Last time I saw Hal Cruttenden he was acting his chops off in the tiny Trafalgar Studios in a show based on the works of George Orwell. “Yes, I’m a ‘proper’ actor,” he says in Tough Luvvie, his new solo comedy piece. “Three years at acting school, then bit parts on the telly.” So now he’s trying his hand at stand up and making a bloody good fist of it, forging a successful path in a very different way. Cruttenden is a comedian on the verge of stardom. That’s pretty plain to see.

He’s a comparatively gentle comedian and a very camp man. He can’t help it, he says. Even his 12 year old daughter Martha is convinced he’s gay. Middle aged and middle-spreading, he’s a “typical middle class twat”, a man who hates ‘manly men’ and who runs away from any sort of confrontation. Even his banter with the audience is pretty good natured.

A woman runs into the show late, clearly flustered and excited. “I’m sorry,” she gasps, “but I’ve just bumped into a Made in Chelsea person!” Which one?, he asks her. “Francis!” Another person squeals at the name. “You’re SO not my crowd,” exclaims Hal, big grin on his face.

Battling a little to be heard above the thud, thud, thud coming from outside the cosy Uderbelly, Cruttenden confesses his left wing leanings – “I am political but quite badly informed” – while imagining how politicians speak to their children, and the fact that we all love the poor as long as they’re from 150 years ago and can hold a showtune.

He also has a novel take on Operation Yewtree – it means there’s more space for him to get on the Royal Variety Show: “Lots of parts opening up. Two in Corrie. Then there’s Animal Hospital….” His nastiest joke is at the expense of Oscar Pistorius, and I think we can all take that one on the chin.

There’s so little to dislike about Cruttenden and so much to like. He’s not your most outrageously innovative comedian, but nor is he a bland bugger. And he’s funny. Which always helps.

I reckon that in ten years time we’ll see Hal going full circle and taking on more acting than comedy. Comedy is the new bit part in The Bill, you see: a way in. And you can, of course, make an absolute fortune in the process. Which always helps too…..

You can catch Hal next up in Edinburgh, and he’s back in London in November (but he’ll be on your tellybox much sooner than that I’m sure)

Four and a half stars