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The Comedy of Errors

Theatre Review: David Baddiel - My Family, Not the Sitcom

26 March 18 words: Kevin Stanley

Baddiel's new show tackles tragedy with comedic wit

After two extremely successful runs in the London West End, David Baddiel’s latest show is now touring and it’s selling out venues across the country. Tonight his show arrives at the Nottingham Playhouse - a great theatre, located near to the city centre offering its audience generous views and comfortable seating.

The show opens with Baddiel reading a number of his most liked and re-tweeted tweets. It’s funny stuff, and introduces us to some of his family and whilst not being part of the main show, does lead into the central theme of the show - that being a very intimate and honest portrait of his family. Baddiel’s mother died quite suddenly three years ago and more recently his father began to suffer from Pick’s Disease - a form of dementia. So Baddiel - ever the story-teller and comic has decided to use these life experiences as material for his new show. But of course it’s not the type of stand-up routine were used to. There is humour, plenty of it, but it’s also a deeply touching, poignant look into his life.

Much of the show is about his mother and her barely-concealed affair with a golfer by the name of David White. A lot of the content is challenging. Listening to Baddiel talk about his mother’s extra-marital activities is somewhat difficult. Yet for Baddiel it must be, in some way cathartic, airing his feelings and emotions but it’s clear that on occasion he chokes up at the emotions and thoughts as he tells his stories.

He also tells us of his father and his relationship with him - that was sometimes less loving than Baddiel might have liked. His father may be ill, but Baddiel reckons it hasn’t changed him too much as he was already rude and inappropriately behaved. That’s partly a joke, partly true perhaps, maybe Pick’s disease has merely exacerbated behaviours he already had. Although Baddiel also tells us, through use of a video clip, of which there are many, that there were times when his father was genuinely proud of him and loving. Clearly he was a good father at times too. It’s something that I can relate to. But can’t we all?

Indeed all of this feels rather raw for me, as it must for Baddiel, as my own father died less than a year ago and hearing Baddiel talk about his mother dying and his father becoming increasingly ill brings up various emotions and feels all too familiar.

Some of it might be tough going, especially for audience members with relatives suffering from dementia, or anyone having suffered a recent family bereavement but Baddiel is, as he’s always been since his earlier days as a more traditional stand-up comedian, an engaging and likeable performer and I can highly recommend his show.


My Family, Not the Sitcom was at Nottingham Playhouse on Sunday 25 March 2018.

Nottingham Playhouse website

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