Nick Mohammed presents The Very Best & Worst of Mr. Swallow offers an evening of comedy and quite a bit more at the Duke Of York’s Theatre
“I’m like a cross between Bonnie Langford and the crab from The Little Mermaid“
Though best known internationally for his role in Ted Lasso, Nick Mohammed came up with his comic character Mr Swallow more than a decade ago and has garnered quite the audience from appearances on shows like 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and various viral hits. I have seen the former, I have never seen the latter, but the beauty of this almost greatest hits-style show – Nick Mohammed presents The Very Best & Worst of Mr. Swallow – is that it really doesn’t matter.
Warm up came from the goofily amusing stand up Tessa Coates who regaled us with tales of Russian mistranslations, the perils of playing Welsh comedy festivals and inspiring Dame Kelly Holmes out of the closet via a misguided jaunt at the Brighton half-marathon. And then after a short intermission, Mr Swallow appears on roller skates (I’m not entirely sure why…) and what follows is a rapid-fire, stream-of-consciousness procession of jokes, bits and tricks loosely focused on numbers and then memory.
It’s a canny way to structure a show as it means the audience is constantly being distracted with something new, useful for a comic who isn’t sure about the hit rate of their work. But since this is a compilation show, these are tried and test and more importantly, frequently very funny indeed. The savaging of the plot of Les Misérables is inspired, the singalong to the Jurassic Park theme tune hilarious as is the bells sequence and the casual cool with which he solves a Rubik’s cube.
The memory section is slightly more deceptive though, for as we’re being guided through a meandering way to link items in order to memorise a list, the scene is being set for something distinctly cleverer. And what felt like a handful of failed or frustrated tricks is revealed as a trail of breadcrumbs towards a final segment of impressively constructed mindgames, mentalism and magic. I still think Ted Lasso did Nathan Shelley dirty in the last series but it looks like Nick Mohammed is the one having the last laugh.