Stuart Goldsmith has been touring his seventh stand up hour, Like I Mean It for nearly five months now. On one of the last stops of the tour he entertains a room of largely devoted Comedian’s Comedian fans (presumably) at Birmingham’s Glee Club.
Every year that Goldsmith comes to this venue, he bounds onto his stage appearing happier about his material and his place on the comedy circuit than the year before, which is only right as this latest show is one that is solid in its structure, subtle in its callbacks and upbeat in attitude.
This comedian is rather rare in that he holds a different relationship to his audience than most other stand ups, most likely as a direct result of his podcasting background, which has enabled him to share elements of his professional and personal life to listeners on a regular basis. The benefits of granting his audience this insight into his life are clear to see, because we audience members feel like we know him and wish to support him (this is embodied by the tentative lady on the third row who quietly reassures him ‘you’re awesome!’ during the first ten minutes).
Like I Mean It is all about the changes that come along with marriage and having children. Yes, it’s a common theme, but Stuart’s observations are original and maintain reliable laughs. Pair this with elements of the surreal (physically acting out the life and death of daisies picked for daisy chains, and the preparing of French frogs for edible consumption), and it is easy to see a clear knowledge of structural balance. And Goldsmith is so renowned for being nice that moments where the narrative takes a turn towards the macabre are quite delightful.
After a short interval, Goldsmith returns to workshop the skeleton of his new Edinburgh show, End Of, not that it feels much like a workshop at all because it seems he’s already got most of his ideas locked down. He tells us to lower our expectations but it’s clear that he’s confident in this new material, and enjoying performing it.
This show is about being tired and wishing for a break from the unrelenting ambition that drives many of us creatives round the bend. Stu asks himself ‘how much more effort can I give?’ and his pernickety exasperations are contagiously funny. At the moment, the hour is a collection of somewhat disjointed ideas, but that can only be expected as the final couple of months of previews enable him to lock the show’s narrative arc into place.
There are three stops left on Stu’s tour of Like I Mean It: the Soho Theatre, Tringe Festival, and Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre. After this he will be performing End Of at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.