REVIEW: John Shuttleworth, Sheffield City Hall

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SHEFFIELD might be gearing itself up for a controversial Lib Dem conference but homegrown comedian John Shuttleworth has more pressing matters on his mind - bread being one of them.

He is a man struggling to modernise, trying to get to grips with wife Mary’s new ‘paganini’ press she bought from Argos.

The show kicks off with John dressed like puritan Oliver Cromwell for a show which was supposed to explore morality. But a poster misprint means A man with no morals became A Man with no more rolls.

Thus begins a lament on this dying breed of good old-fashioned bread, battling against the modern likes of ciabatta, paninis and Peter’s bread - pitta bread to you and me.

He and Mary even lost out in a bidding war on Ebay for a toaster, which went for £2.51.

Shuttleworth can’t even get his head round other condiments such as houmous and pesto not to mention olives. He’d rather be entertaining the troops at Thurcroft British Legion.

And when he calls Mary on his mobile for a chat, he finds to his dismay his agent Ken is round the house, about to heat his peshwari naan in Mary’s paganini press.

We also hear of a spat in a curry house when he gets into a fight for insisting on saying ‘pompadoms’ - smashing said accompaniment all over Ken’s afro.

In between the bread-based banter, Shuttleworth (aka Graham Fellows) takes the audience on a musical tour of favourites old and new such as My Austin Ambassador Y Reg, Disaffected Youth, Pigeons In Flight and Serial Cereal Eater.

There’s also a brilliant Nirvana-pastiche about the perils of not washing your paint brushes called Smells Like White Spirit, followed by the sublime Can’t Go Back to Savoury Now.

If you ever needed a reason to justify carrying on with pudding after a stunning shepherd’s pie, that was it.

So many comics today seem to rely on bad taste to get cheap laughs, but Shuttleworth doesn’t need to resort to such tricks, thanks to his exquisite timing and sharp observations.

And his whimisical ponderings on modern life struck a chord in everyone, no matter what their age.

He had the audience in the palm of his hand, dressed in his trademark red rollneck and tan leather jacket, fiddling with the buttons on his trusty keyboard, a befuddled expression always on his face.

Nick Clegg has a hard act to follow...

by Chantal Spittles