The Cambridge Geek

A Normal... Imagination

Henry Normal is back, with a further collection of jokes, poetry and anecdotes, this time focusing on the creative act. He looks at cave paintings, Salvador Dali, the imagination of childhood and the more meta, playing with poetry about poetry.

His shows always run through a fair number of different topics, hitting at both the topical and the personal, and this is no exception. We swing from stories from his youth about being given flavoured gas at the dentists, to Joyce Kilmer's "Trees" for the text generation. Running throughout all of them is his life's greatest desire, for a new Land Rover Evoke, which he's hoping to achieve with a bit of sneaky product placement.

Normal has built a persona that swings between innocent child and filth, but is persistently cheerful, which is a nice change to some of the more cynical approaches to comedy often seen. This allows the familial insights to have a bit more emotional depth, before jumping back to the silliness of the occasional knob joke. Perhaps the best sign of this cheeriness is his interaction with an audience who decide to heckle him with a correction on his Spanish pronunciation. Only on Radio 4.

Unsurprisingly, Normal has a very wide and deep knowledge of poetical and artisitic history, and draws on this to make jokes about an absolute shedload of subjects. He takes a fun look at the creativity of lying, and the concept that "good artists imitate, but great artists steal" and immediately proves this by peppering the show with entertaining quotes.

Probably my favourite portion of the show is his description of a burglary committed by a mime, which manages to string together a run of visual gags. Quite an impressive feat on the radio. His more serious pieces are growing on me, but I suspect I still don't have quite the sentimentality about children or the oddness of families to enjoy them.

Finished up with an interesting insight into being involved in the writing of The Royle Family, with how much of it is stolen from family members. Made me very suspicious of any aspiring writers I happen to know. Interestingly, the summing up of this and the universality of family experiences has significant parallels with the end of Sarah Kendall's Australian Trilogy.

Worth a listen. (Will be broadcast Sunday, 19 August 2018.)

Score 4

Tagged: Radio Comedy Monologue Stand-up Arts/Culture