Rhod Gilbert and ‘The Man with the Flaming Battenberg Tattoo’ – A Review

Anyone who has seen Rhod Gilbert preform, either live or on TV, would probably agree that his particular brand of comedy is derived from his sarcastic and argumentative personality. In much the same way as Jack Dee he delivers his dialogue with a facial expression resembling a pissed off cat, who has spent Christmas day being systematically sat on and having its tail pulled by tearaway children. If this cat could talk it would probably spew the same kind of venomous rant which has made Rhod Gilbert so successful in recent years.

The Man with the Flaming Battenberg Tattoo

Gilbert’s new tour, entitled ‘The Man with the Flaming Battenberg Tattoo’, fortuitously included a slot at the Villa Marina. While this new tour sees Gilbert covering some of the same material we have seen on ‘Live at the Apollo’ and ‘The Royal Variety Performance’ – such as the toothbrush sketch – there is a definite deviation from his usual form.

You see, this Rhod Gilbert has been to anger management class! A little counterproductive you may think for a man who, in his own words, has made a living out of being a “contrary little shit!” And it begs the question: has his new approach to anger, i.e. managing it rather than just letting it spew from his mouth with all the offence of molten lava, taken the edge of his act.

Through the Flaming Battenberg Tattoo tour we see a Rhod Gilbert who is able to laugh at himself. His anger management therapy seems to have inspired some internal reflection and taken Rhod on a journey of self-discovery. He is a man who has had an epiphany, and the Flaming Battenberg Tattoo has become the catalyst for this realisation. He makes it a symbol of his own contrary nature, the physical manifestation of his anger, which, like the Tattoo he never really wanted, he is stuck with. The comedy gold in this tour comes from the reading of excerpts from Rhod’s Anger Management journal and letters from corporations whose products Rhod had unrealistic expectations from. The journal and compliant letters could be published in their own right and while these tantalising snippets contain genius levels of sarcasm the true beauty of them is that audience can’t help but feel charmed by the insight into the comedian’s life.

I enjoyed it

All in all there is a definite change in Gilbert. The eventual and inevitable break-up with his girlfriend, real or imagined, seems to have encouraged Rhod to look inward to realize that in order for life to change he must change himself. However much artistic licence has been taken with the story he relays to the audience is unclear, but, fact or fiction, his journey, and in turn his performance, is filled with a sense of genuine open honesty, which is refreshing and gives the audience a sense of witnessing his growth.

The show is as enjoyable as any of his others and is still filled with its usual belly laughs and impressive quick sarcastic witty retorts for which Rhod is famous.  However, this time the audience is left with a sense of genuine good-will and hope for this man’s future, not as a comedian, but as a human being.


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