Dynamic comedian captivates audience
Emmy-winning writer shines in stand-up act
Published: Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 15:02
Best known as the award-winning television writer and co-director to the British series "The Office," seldom do people know that Stephen Merchant started off as a stand-up comedian.
After touring the United Kingdom and venues across the United States, Merchant's last stop on his U.S. Hello Ladies tour was at Cobb's Comedy Club in San Francisco on Jan. 24.
Merchant walked onto the stage and his introduction was strong and instantly captivating. He explained one reason why reason he decided to go on the comedy tour. Merchant jokingly said it was a way he can make money without sharing with "you know who," fellow sitcom collaborator Ricky Gervais.
It was a sign that the rest of his set would impress.
The set was fruitful throughout and each bit maintained its grasp upon the spectators.
Each joke either met the expectation of the last one or transcended each time as the night progressed. Accompanying the material was his amusing facial expressions and his use of the stage; the combination of the three illuminated the dimly lit room.
He expressed his challenges with having an extremely tall stature at a toppling 6 feet and 7 inches. Merchant explained his struggles with swooping under door frames and the awkwardness he faces when trying to have sex with women who are much shorter than him.
One of the highlights of Merchant's act was the pieces of clothing he wore that his parents so thoughtfully gave him as gifts.
Imagine a lanky English man wearing an extra small shirt with a picture of his parents holding up glasses of red wine, and a black baseball cap outfitted and adorned with sheet metal and the word "intensity" etched onto the front. While funny, the mental imagery is not nearly as sidesplitting as seeing someone actually wearing it.
The show began to sway to a close as Merchant asked two audience members to play parts in a short play he wrote in high school called "Choices." The play displays the choices placed in front of a young man, played by Merchant. He must make decisions to be a responsible soon-to-be young father and a supportive friend. Neither of which his character out turned to be.
As everyone laughed, the comedian scoffed and repeated that it was not supposed to be facetious, but it deliberately made the skit more hilarious.
Merchant is insanely comical, witty and ultimately charming to see live, just as he is on television.