Britain's best-paid comedian is worth every penny – Micky Flanagan, review

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Micky Flanagan
Credit: Anthony Medley

The highest-earning comedian of 2016, thanks to the box-office stampede for this, his third arena tour, Micky Flanagan is, to borrow his own words, absolutely loaded. An’ Another Fing begins with the cockney geezer fessing up to piles of filthy lucre. He grew up impoverished on an east-London council estate. Now he’s one of the haves. “Corbyn’s after me,” he says, Cheshire Cat grin widening, “He’s got me on his radar… old ‘socks and sandals’. ‘Get Flanagan’s dosh off him.’ ”

But what’s that sound? Fifteen-thousand people cheering, not a heckle to be heard. Theresa May can relax – here’s proof she’s going to walk it at the election. In Birmingham, fans are happy to stand for ages in queues, treated little better than cattle, and pour more money into Flanagan’s swollen coffers. Being well-off and “a man of the people” aren’t incompatible, you see. You can keep it real while rolling in it. 

An' Another Fing: Micky Flanagan onstage in Birmingham Credit: Carsten Windhorst

Reviewing his 2013 show Back in the Game, I wondered whether the star’s breathless ascent and the cocooning effect of celebrity might leave him gasping for fresh material. But he has craftily restocked supplies by giving himself a “year off”. Not – now he’s reached 54 – to see the world, but to kick around at home a bit more: cue much elaborate and expensive wooing of his missus, caricatured as high-maintenance and easily provoked by his ineptness.

“ ‘I ain’t havin’ you around me for a year – I’ll end up sticking a knife in ya’,” Flanagan mimics ’er-indoors; his fixed smile and camp inflections making him at once approachable and slightly Pinter-villainish, puffy cheeks redolent of a cherub blowing a trumpet. “She wouldn’t,” he continues, warily. “She bandies this threat around quite a lot. I think she’d prod me out the house with a steak knife. I don’t think she’d go in.”

Well-heeled man of the people: Micky Flanagan Credit: Antony Medley

The show lives up to its title – it’s one fing after another, yet it’s not hit and miss, always laid-back but never lazy: not a word squandered in two hours. During his sabbatical, he hung around the local boozer and newsagent, kept a wry eye on himself while watching the world go by. He refers back as required to working-class habits of yore (the cup of cold wee kept by the door to fling at unwanted visitors, anyone?) and the unreconstructed (only ironically halcyon) Seventies. 

There’s a lot of swearing here, a fair bit about sex and bodily functions, his own decay entertainingly noted. He ends by recounting a Saga holiday taken to bolster his fragile ageing wide-boy ego (“I’m parading round the pool... I can see all the birds buzzing, they’re all saying to each other, ‘Poldark’s there!’ ”). The pièce de resistance, though, is a luxuriantly foul-mouthed rant about an olive-studded pizza he ordered while on holiday in France for the first time, so workshy in execution that it prompts the exaggerated dismissal of the entire country – his outré xenophobia, of course, boomeranging back on itself. An embarrassment of riches, all told, and worth every penny.

Touring until November 5. Tickets and details: mickyflanagan.com