Six years have already passed since Frank Skinner’s last return to stand up (a 69-date UK tour that followed an Edinburgh run).
Stewardship of recent West End theatre residencies - the Credit Crunch Cabaret and Frank Skinner and Friends - have given us glimpses of that ol’ Brum magic, but now the 56-year-old is the main attraction again with this short residency.
Though past the work-in-progress stage, there is something of an in-between feel to Man in a Suit. Skinner says that he wants to cut a more refined figure in terms of his material (thereby matching his sartorial standards), but that seems to mean a ponderous and pedestrian approach at times.
A nostalgic return to his “utter filth” at the end is, ironically, his most consistent section. Elsewhere, including in a routine about his own fame, he treads a thin line between corny and contrived. Meanwhile, Skinner’s natural self-deprecation struggles with slightly more cynical, high-status impulses.
These contradictions are almost hidden by the erratic rhythm of the show, one that prevents anything but a cursory examination of topic areas. However, there are times when Skinner plays it long, as with his cute Harry Belafonte-inspired joke and its haiku payoff.
Back in the Saddle runs the country song that sees Skinner on stage tonight. What follows is more a canter than a gallop.