On Saturday, me and a couple of friends went to see Sue Perkins at De Montfort Hall, as part of the Leicester Comedy Festival. She is currently touring based on material from her memoir, ‘Spectacles’. The gig started promptly, and the voice over introducing Sue was actually Sue herself who was keen to make sure the audience knew which one of ‘Mel and Sue’ they were about to see! Using the backdrop to the stage as a slide show, we were shown a photo sequence alternating between pictures of herself and Mel with the emphasis on who was who. A good warm up getting the audience nicely on board.
Sue bounded on stage to a full house and a great sense of affection from the audience. Unfortunately, she had problems with her mic which was one of those where you wear an earpiece and a battery pack. It intermittently caused various loud sounds which Sue took in her stride and used to comic affect. However, clearly not ideal, she got one of the sound crew on to try and sort it which eventually led to Sue using a traditional mic with lead. This caused its own problems when Sue tried to read from her book but testament to Sue’s pragmatism she saw the humour in it and showed the audience her quick wit.
All very good natured, Sue explained that during the first half, she would be reading excerpts from her book as well as sharing childhood memories through some old pictures and school work her parents had kept. Her anecdotes greatly enhanced these snapshots from the ’70s and ’80s, all of which resonated with the audience to some degree, whether school play, family holiday or wedding. Many of us identified with the odd looking relatives, dodgy clothing and bad photography reminiscent of a pre-digital age. Sue’s carefully chosen extracts from her book brought to life the stories behind them for those who had read the book, and, I’m sure, would have made those that hadn’t want to read it.
After the interval, Sue took questions from the audience, which was a clever way for her to talk about the many different television jobs during her career. She covered the show which she did with Giles Coren, whereby they were generally three sheets to the wind throughout, thanks to the premise of investigating the history of food and drink by experiencing it first hand (apparently another series has not been commissioned so far…) Obviously, the audience was keen to get the low down on Bake Off, and Sue confirmed that Mary Berry could drink them under the table and still be razor sharp ready for filming the next day. She also talked poignantly about the travel programs she’d been involved with, including ones about the Mekon river and India. She expressed how humbling the experiences were and that the best adventures were to be found in the lives of the ordinary people who welcomed her into their homes, even if she did have to eat and drink questionable offerings on occasion. There were plenty of questions to keep Sue occupied throughout the second half and she approached the answers with honesty and a glimpse of her views on certain celebrities!
Overall, Sue’s effervescent personality shone through along with her wit and enthusiasm, making the two hours fly by and a sense that you’d like to carry on chatting with her over a beer down the pub.