Ed Gamble was for a long time best known as half of a duo with fellow stand-up Ray Peacock, but his latest solo show, Stampede, saw him delving into personal topics in this sometimes mechanical outing.
Gamble is considered among the very best comperes around, and this was evident in his handling of audience interaction and some interruptions. A highly engaging performer, his assured nature meant that material about his own weight loss, and the tyranny of the food and beauty industries, was easier to relate to. These subjects brought plenty of good moments too, with some imaginative observations which served as the springboard for extended routines and flights of fancy that delivered more often than not.
It was the section about Gamble’s weight – he has lost six stone in recent years – which informed much of the show, from the act of losing the weight to the problems it’s created for him, with the humble cauliflower being a lightning rod for his rage and disbelief over the advice of food bloggers. Indeed, it remained an integral part of the show as a symbol for the person he’s become as a result of that change in his life.
If the use of a vegetable as a structural conceit felt a little underwhelming, it was more because it seemed a bit forced and didn’t contribute much comedically, other than a few call-backs which often threatened to stall more interesting vignettes. Despite this disrupted flow, Gamble’s energy and skill as a comic ensured that the audience remained engaged and attentive throughout, his innate likeability winning out during some stretches which were lighter on laughs.
The overall effect was rather slight, in terms of sheer ideas, though Stampede was still an enjoyable 90 minutes in the affable company of a stand-up craftsman.