In the press blurb for his show Middle-Aged, Useless and Talented Nick Hayman compares himself to Tommy Cooper and Norman Wisdom. The contrast does not leave Hayman in a positive light.
Hayman’s brand of musical comedy – which revolves mainly around his piano-driven ditties and one-liner jokes – comes across as dated and timeworn, rather than cheeky or funny. He kicks off the show with a painfully bad attempt at topical humour – jumping on the Olympic comic bandwagon with a set of physical comedy jokes that bombed. The rest of the show was ostensibly about the issues surrounding middle-agedness, though his material veered on and off topic and rarely made coherent sense. The anchoring elements of the act – Hayman’s original songs and musicianship – might have lifted the rest of the show, had they been of any considerable quality. Alas, his songwriting was pitifully ham-fisted, his technical skill nothing special.
What Hayman imagined was witty social commentary about becoming middle-aged was, in reality, poor jokes delivered with bad timing. A particular nadir was the song Dirty Lying Rat, written about Nick Clegg, which appeared seemingly randomly in the middle of a set of jokes about a musical zoo.
His rapport with the audience, too, was damning, since he failed to strike up any sort of engagement from the four people in attendance. At several points, the show paused whilst he consulted scripts or rearranged his sheet music – though the absolute low point was a minute-long spell through which he struggled to hang a replica skeleton on a microphone stand.
In many ways, criticising Hayman’s show feels like shooting fish in a barrel. As an audience member, it was embarrassing to watch – a middle aged man floundering on stage, trying desperately to emulate his comedy heroes.
Originally published here, on Broadway Baby.