Relentless hecklers are given short shrift throughout a choppy final tour date
'Ladies and gentlemen, none of us quite know exactly what's going on.' Thus concludes English funnyman Andy Parsons as his Gruntled Live gig at the Millennium Forum in Derry flops to a nervous finish.
We all know Parsons as the bumbling satirist from Mock The Week, and for much of tonight it's business as usual. But, unable to ignore the drunken bellowing of three particular attendees, Parsons finds himself spending more than a tolerable portion of his stage time picking them apart with uncharacteristic wrath.
Not only does he wish the main offender death by asphyxiation in a toilet cubicle, but he curses the fact that that particular specimen developed beyond the twinkle in his father's eye. And it's totally exhilarating to hear, principally because the humiliation the victim receives is completely justified.
Still, the numerous diversions leave a heavy mark on what appears to be an already hastily structured performance.
The fleeting notions that enter Parsons' hairless head sidetrack him from gags that are left unfinished, and his attempts to ad-lib with audience members are, frequently, neither involving nor effective.
Parsons has a way of dragging an unconvincing laugh out of you before he's even sure that there's a joke to be made. And when he stumbles and flusters like that, it gets embarrassing.
More than once, he falls back onto his dodgy safety net wordbank ('basically, essentially, you see, ladies and gentlemen, right?') in a frenzied mental rummage for a punchline.
Usually he recovers, however, and often with a rib-tickling observation, like when he compares the government's gambling of public money to the act of resuscitating a crippled racehorse 'that everyone knows has got a severe f*cking limp'.
Elsewhere, he ponders why fired Apprentice contestants don't kick off on Lord Sugar, the pointlessly excessive amount of 1001 Things To Do Before You Die books and, with the help of an ice cream man, how best to locate the registered sex offender on a three-house street.
But that's the problem with Parsons. When the material is limp he bleeds it for all it's worth, and when he's onto a killer idea that you're intrigued to follow, it often falls flat because of a badly worded punchline or the stuttering rhythm with which he gets there.
It's been a rocky set, but Parsons remains defiant. 'Maybe this routine isn't going in the direction you expected, but part of me doesn't care,' he admits. 'I've been on a 40 date tour, this is the last night. This one's for me!' Touche.