Mancunian comedian Justin Moorhouse brings childlike warmth and memories of a simpler time to the Leadmill.
Justin Moorhouse cuts an unassuming figure as he strolls onto the darkened stage of the Leadmill bearing – rather bizarrely – a town crier’s bell. “What?” he asks. “You want me to pay 64 quid to play a snippet of James Brown? Fuck that, I’ll have a bell.”
This abrupt entrance perfectly sets the tone for Moorhouse’s face-value, no-frills style of comedy. His People & Feelings tour sets its roots in the simple hilarity of childhood, and Moorhouse arrives armed with anecdotes aplenty about the trials and tribulations of running riot through the streets of 1980s Manchester. He keeps his tone light and his language plain, deflecting potentially gritty subject matter with effortless charm; reminiscences of his mother warning him not to “get got” by kidnappers draw a wry chuckle from the audience.
Moorhouse’s nostalgia is contrasted brilliantly with a good-natured disgruntlement at the “children of today”, namely his own. He offers a hilarious tale about attending a gig with his teenage son – “He’s at university now although I’ve no idea why, since he already knows everything” – who naively believed that the sheer will power of the audience was responsible for convincing the band to perform an encore: “It was a good job too – they’d forgotten to play their biggest hits!” Moorhouse sums up his predicament at the time: “Do I tell him he’s a knob’ead, or not?”
If Moorhouse’s engagement with childhood is his overriding strength, his occasional reliance on the “ugly girl” as the butt of the joke is definitely his weakness, standing at an awkward impasse with his later, seemingly heartfelt endorsement of feminism. No one can deny Moorhouse’s ability to spin a convincing and irresistibly funny yarn, and so his falling back on this stale comedic trope strikes as a little lazy.
Nevertheless, People & Feelings promises a night of genuine laughs and warm camaraderie as Moorhouse lets us in on the escapades of his day-to-day life. On a chilly November evening, it’s oddly comforting to immerse yourself once more in the truly weird world of playground banter.
Visit the Leadmill for plenty more comedic delights. Their next Comedy Club will take place on Wednesday 6 December – grab your tickets here.