Riffing with the audience about the town or city is a tried and tested trick of any MC or comic with more time to kill than material to share.
You could chose to tut or admire the chutzpah of Rob Brydon, Lee Mack and David Mitchell who spent most of a recent sold-out gig at the Dome, doing, more or less, just that.
The three television heavyweights obviously had the comedy chops for it and the show was a mix of spontaneous responses and chat, with a few rehearsed gags along the way.
Those reused gags looked a little more wooden than perhaps they should have, but give or take the odd clearly set up clunkers, the trio were almost entirely busking by the seats of their comedy pants.
The first half began with an all too brief routine from Rob Brydon, who throughout the night dipped into his largely impressive canon of impressions, including Michael Caine, Tom Jones (predictably) and Shakin’ Stevens (somewhat less predictably), before welcoming Mitchell and Mack to the stage for a spot of verbal badinage in the form of an audience participatory quiz about Brighton and Hove.
The crowd vented some oft-aired pet peeves about the city: seagulls, tourists, parking problems, and a remarkable amount of anger at those pursuing a plant-based diet. Lee Mack was generally the fastest out of the blocks in response to the audience contributions (as quick as a local gull swooping for a chip he told a student of maths, geography and economics: “I bet you know where all the cash machines are!”). As the most traditional stand-up of the group, he was unquestionably the best suited to the format, and had the on-stage nous to keep the evening ticking over.
The closest it came to derailing was in the second half when the traditionally limelight-happy Brighton audience became surprisingly coy and microphone-averse, but they eventually found their voices and gave the comics plenty to work with.
Although Mack did most of the comedy heavy-lifting and had a seemingly endless supply of gags to fall back on, David Mitchell was sharp and – away from the environment of a TV or radio panel show – seemed slightly less cosmically all-knowing and more likeable as a result.
Riff-heavy, material-light shows are nice work if you can get it, but are only nice for the crowd in the hands of performers like these who have the talent and stage-craft to pull it off.
Brydon, Mack and Mitchell at the Brighton Dome - October 3