An Evening with The Fast Show – Review – Grand Opera House, York

The Fast Show Live Review Grand Opera House, York (1)

By Roger Crow, March 2024

I don’t think a day has gone by in the past three decades when I haven’t quoted a catchphrase from The Fast Show, mainly because there’s a quote for every occasion. A hot day? “Scorchio”. Assessing the beautiful game? “Jumpers for goalposts. Isn’t it? Marvellous”. Summing up seven days of activity? “This week I have been mostly…”. You get the idea.

Launched in 1994, the collection of quick-fire sketches and often nonsensical characters adhered to the golden rule of ‘repeat until funny’. Which doesn’t always apply. But thankfully in the hands of comedy greats Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson, Caroline Aherne, John Thompson, Simon Day, Arabella Weir and Mark Williams, the series genuinely caught the imaginations of comedy fans. And before long “…which was nice’; “Let’s Off Road”, and “I was very, very drunk,” were being quoted in classrooms and office spaces around the UK.

To see most of the original line-up on stage in York is like a dream come true. Higson arrives first and is eventually followed by Whitehouse, in the guise of louche but lovable the 13th Duke of Wybourne. They discuss how they developed the series, crafted catchphrases, memorable moments, and then eventually the others arrive and give us their memories.

The Fast Show Live Review Grand Opera House, York (2)


The first half is a little patchy in places, but still a huge amount of fun, and just the sheer joy of those wonderful characters dispensing those gags in front of a packed audience is like Christmas morning. The second half is tighter, funnier and incredibly poignant as there’s a tribute to the much-missed Caroline Aherne. John Thompson’s silent sketch with two chairs is so perfect, you could hear a pin drop. “What did I say Roy?” is not mentioned, but you can almost hear Caroline’s voice, such is the power of that motormouth character with the Deirdre Barlow specs.

There’s also Ted and Ralph, that depressed painter and his wife, and Swiss Tony, the suave car salesman, whose moustache really didn’t want to stay on. It only added to the fun.

I could have watched John Thompson do his impressions all night, but at least we had a few seconds of his phenomenal Christopher Walken, while his memories of creating the character from Jazz Club were a joy. As was Simon Day’s musical hall raconteur Tommy Cockles, and Paul Whitehouse’s Arthur “Where’s me washboard?” Atkinson.

From 7.30pm until 10pm, with an interval, it was a feast of memories, gags, sketches, and laughs.

Which was nice.


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