Pearce – Dated But The Consummate Pro
Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor
Once in a while Alhambra panto stalwart Billy Pearce must feel the need to let his adoring Bradford public know there is more to his talent than being battered over the head by Widow Twanky.
So, every now and then, the veteran ‘silly lad’ rolls out the risqué and drives into a venue with all the subtlety of a tank in a meringue factory!
Pearce is among the last of a dying (or dead) breed – Manning, Chubby Brown, Peter ‘Machine Gun’ Wallis’, Doddy – gag men who can keep the one liners going for hours at a time.
It is a skill learned over decades in that most unforgiving of ‘circuits, the working men’s clubs, and Pearce is the consummate professional, indulging his capacity audience with a brand of Northern humour that works well in Yorkshire but, no doubt, has more limited appeal as it travels south.
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But, maybe that’s because his style of comedy has limits? So-called ‘modern’ comedians are less about the Englishman, Irishman, and Scotsman style – although Pearce didn’t mention any of them once – and more about situational ‘life’ comedy, raconteur style storytelling wrapped in hyperbole to produce laughs, a form of comedy that is limitless, spontaneous and of-the-moment.
When Jimmy Carr got pilloried for alleged tax avoidance, it gave him a 10 minute sketch. However, Pearce’s style cannot be as responsive because it is restricted by its ‘one liner’ format although, for that very same reason, he is a brilliant ‘put down’ man, controlling his audience more effectively than a boardroom chairman, and dealing with gobby hecklers with a skill that could only have been honed in the likes of Barnsley WMC!
Personally I find his comedy style tired – the gags from the 70’s were still in there - but I cannot but help admire the skill of a man, with just a microphone, who can entertain seamlessly from 7.30pm – 10.30pm and, for the largest part, leave those who do love him, shouting for more.
Blue? Yes. Risqué? Absolutely. But there will always be an audience for Billy Pearce and, when he finally hang up his boots, the world will be a worse place because he is one of the last bastions of political incorrectness, and someone who is still prepared to say, ‘if you don’t like me, then don’t come. Anyway, there was this gay fella………’
Pearce – Dated But The Consummate Pro, 30th June 2018, 21:01 PM