Sunday, 4 July 2010

Ken Dodd Happiness Tour Review Assembly Hall Tunbridge Wells

Ken Dodd
Happiness Tour
Assembly Hall
Tunbridge Wells

4th July 2010

Ken Dodd 2010
The length of Ken Dodd's shows are legendary. Most people going for a dose of Doddy happiness know it's a good idea to take food and drink along (I'm not joking either).

Strangely, despite the incredibly busy schedule Ken sticks to this is the first time we have been to one of his shows.

I think we were always deterred by the fact it was a likely 6 hour event and were worried about becoming bored eventually.

Knowing that Ken had support acts I think at the back of the mind it's easy to assume these may dominate the show.

Boy have we missed out over the years!?

As you will see from my brief video The Assembly Hall Theatre in Royal Tunbridge Wells had a plan. Perhaps if they started Doddy early at 5pm he may finish earlier than 1am. But did it work?

The show kicked off on time with Ken Dodd's band (Kenny Adams and David Carter) playing an intro.

Ken wasted no time in making an appearance and had the audience laughing along immediately. His act is so varied that, unless you have died in your seat, you must laugh at something. Goodness some of Ken's jokes are so long and with punch lines so corny you really feel you should have seen the ending coming long ago. What surprised me was the number of jokes I had never heard before. For a comedy genius celebrating his 55th year in showbusiness so much of the material is fresh and topical. Understandably he has a heck of a lot of taxman jokes and great they are too.

After a considerable amount of time on stage Ken made way for his first support act Sybie Jones. Sybie is what I would deem as an easy listening singer. She first tackled hits from the Carpenters' and similar songs whilst playing on a Steinway Grand Piano. Leaving the piano she then did a routine where she changed the words to a song. I have to be honest, this really wasn't my cup of tea. It just didn't have the wow factor and I did find that when singing at the piano she had a tendency to turn her head away from the microphone taking the words with her. On the positive side though Ken's support acts appear to be more fill-the-gap-whilst-I-get-changed-acts and I think this act was only on about 15 minutes.I'd like to point out it was not me that said out loud "I wish they would" when she bursted into Take Me Home, Country Roads.

Ken returned to rapturous applause for another long comedy stint - just as hilarious as the first. Of course singing and picking on victims on the front row is all part of the routine. Don't you just love it when a comedian picks on somebody who has a sense of humour bypass? It just makes the routine all the more funny.

Ken's second sequence took us to the interval. Here I was thinking we might get bored yet until now I had not looked at my watch. 7.40pm! Hell where did that time go? Doesn't time fly when you can't stop laughing?

I couldn't believe we had sat through what was a normal length show for any other artist and we still had the second half to come.

Merchandise: Programmes at £2 and tickling sticks at £3 are very fairly priced. I did think that £10 for CD's and around £13 for Ken's Book was a little on the high side but I have to relate these prices to Des O'Connor's. I would add that if these prices were for signed merchandise Doddy would sell bucketloads of CDs,books and DVDs.

Break over, and it was clear that although Ken is well known for a gargantuan length show there were several empty seats. The drop out rate isn't massive but it is apparent that many people aren't prepared for such a long show.

I won't spoil it but after a short musical intro Ken returned to the stage and was clearly ready for there being several vacant spots with a gag that was a real gem.

Lots and lots more happiness and tales from Knotty Ash later and it's time for support act number 2.

Vee and Mark - Adante - Multi Instrumentalists
Like it did with us, I could tell this act went down a lot, lot better with the Tunbridge Wells audience.

Husband and wife Mark and Vee are Adante. They are "multi instrumentalists" with Mark concentrating on "things with strings" and the louder instruments whilst Vee deals primarily with the woodwind section.

She blows everything from the tiniest piccolo flutes to a massive pepper mill. OK it's actually a huge, rarely seen on stage, bass recorder but when viewed with the mouthpiece invisible from the audience it does resemble the ultimate in kitchen accessories.

Mark and Vee have something else to help them on stage though, in addition to their instruments. That is a good stage presence with a confident presentation and a great rapport both between themselves and the audience. I can honestly say I found their part of the show entertaining and, as they were the only of the support acts I heard any cheers for, I was not alone in this feeling. This was a much better 15-20 minute interlude.

Whilst waiting for Ken at the end of the show we did have the pleasure of meeting this lovely couple, who I believe are now off to entertain on a Fred Olsen Cruise. Thanks for allowing the picture Mark and Vee! One thing though folks, if you happen to see this, is that I've found on the Internet you are practically invisible - it's really hard work finding anything on you :(

Well time rolls on and I'm now fully aware I have been in this seat several hours. Not because I'm aware of passing time or because I'm bored, but because the seat has become so bloody uncomfortable. There's not a lot of padding on the Assembly Hall seats and, whilst a normal 2-2.5 hour show is bearable, after 3 hours on these seats the gluteus maximus becomes maximus painius arseus. I had an ailse seat and even swinging the legs wildly around this didn't help. The only consolation was that many others seemed to have started wriggling in their chairs.

And so Ken Dodd returns for his final, and just as long, part of the show. More wonderful songs, in true Doddy style the theme of love and laughter reigning supreme. More masterful comedy and the pleasure of watching his ventriloquist routine with one of the Diddy Men.

Sadly this show, which I thought may be ultimately too long, came to an end far too soon at 10.30pm. The theatre's plan had worked (or so they thought!).

Kenn Dodd Happiness Tour 2010
The standing ovation for this utterly amazing, 82 year old, comedy entertainer was inevitable. Inevitable that is because it was a superb show by a fabulous respected Liverpudlian entertainer, not because everybodys' backside was now aching so much they had to stand.
So that was the end of a fantastic show and the theatre staff must have been glad they could lock up and go home.........................

Well not yet.

We had promised Des O'Connor that if we got to see Ken we would pass a message on. Understandably Ken's partner takes anything to be signed in to him rather than him coming out so this is done first. Whilst his party pack up preparing to travel for the next venue anybody who wishes to hang around hoping to meet Ken can just wait. That is very fair, people have got their autographs. Ken Dodd is a martyr still doing this long routine at 82. With their signed mementos people now have the choice, go home or be patient and wait.

We waited and it was worth ever minute with the few people who stayed with us for his exit after midnight.

The 8 or so of us who waited weren't hurried though. On the contrary, Ken Dodd seems to get his amazing energy from the pleasure he gets from performing and meeting people and, more importantly, making people laugh.

Happily posing for photos (and reposing if they blurred) his interest in people is genuine and his love for laughter is not just an on-stage thing as he continues to dish out one-one liners in the early hours of the morning at the stage door. Even at this ridiculous hour Ken seemed to give the impression he had all the time in the world to chat and laugh.

It sounds a little odd but we actually feel very priviledged to have met Ken Dodd. Where Doddy really gets the energy to carry on I have no idea but I would gladly go to shows as long as heroic Ken Dodd is prepared to continue spreading happiness, the greatest gift that he possesses!

Finally, well after 12.30am, the theatre staff could lock up and go home

If you are hoping to see Ken at Eastbourne (Congress) on 8th August you had better book quick as there are very few seats left 01323 412000 Or Book Online by clicking here
5 out of 5 for Ken Dodd
(note if by some chance anybody knows Cynthia and Celia the blonde ladies who saw this show and waited at the stage door with us I have a photo of Celia I believe, with Ken, that she might like a copy of. Please ask them to make contact using the form to the right)
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  1. I'm going to see Ken in July and cannot wait!!!

  2. i am going to see ken at christmas i cannot wait too

  3. My wife and I are going to see Ken at Eastbourne in August 2014.


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