After the mediocre warm-up act, (jokes about how men and woman’s brains are wired differently? Couldn’t think of some fresh material?) I was eager for Terry Alderton to come onstage. And he didn’t disappoint. As I write this it’s difficult to convey the brilliance, the strangeness and the sheer comic verve of Alderton’s performance. A constant stream of impressions, accents, odd noises and strange dances interspersed and enlivened more conventional comic devices such as talking to members of the audience. A man possessed by comic virtuosity, Alderton was practically fizzing and spitting with jokes, gags and musical skits as he swooped dizzyingly from one subject to another.
Perhaps my favourite aspect of the performance, and what I think really raised the calibre of Alderton’s comedy was the employment of a bizarre but effective comic device in which Alderton would periodically turn his back to the audience and carry on a conversation with himself, using a slightly sinister raspy voice for one side of the conversation and a higher voice for the other. As alarming as that sounds it was actually very funny; the voices would comment if the audience didn’t laugh at a joke (thus rescuing potentially awkward moments of uneasy silence) and also discuss members of the audience, adding an intriguing dimension to what can frequently be a tired part of the comedian’s routine; audience interaction. Most importantly, it allowed Alderton to adeptly control the audience’s reactions, something at which he showed considerable expertise.
What makes Alderton so brilliant at what he does is his fluidity as a comedian, the versatility of his comic range. A literal embodiment of this on the night was the way in which he switched rapidly between accents, speaking at one moment in a camp upper class accent and the next in estuary English. It is difficult to pin down or categorize Alderton as a comedian, and perhaps because of that his possibility and potential becomes endless.