You won’t need the details above, because – alas! – by the time you read this review you will have missed the show in the intimate upper room of one of London’s best known comedy venues. But if it encourages you to go and see Pierre Novellie in future, your time will not have been wasted. This Franco-Italian South African Manxman is a gentle giant in appearance who pokes gentle fun at a wide range of targets, from the “liberal metropolitan élite” in the audience to (especially) himself. Cataloguing his failed attempts to be cool, the eponymous Peter takes us on a rambling and hilarious journey through the high spots and low spots – well, mostly low spots – of his life, from failing to learn much French as a schoolboy to failing to sell many vending machines in his job as a salesman.
Listing the topics that Peter rambles through would not do justice to the humour, and indeed the pathos, that he wrings out of these situations. The best comedians have a pathetic side, and this comes across in Peter’s self-confessed nerdiness. The highlight for me was when Peter was down and out in Bounds Green, a part of London whither few of the metropolitan élite can have ventured, and where deeply unsettling encounters with rodents and insects enlivened his sojourn at a run-down lodging house.
It is no cliché to say that the audience loved it. My attention was gripped throughout by one big man and a mic, and we were left wanting more when he took a modest bow and retreated from view – for now.