There’s a simple reason why Michael McIntyre is now Britain’s highest earning comedian – he’s pretty funny. His much-hyped Showtime tour packed out Dubai’s World Trade Centre on Friday night (and again last night) selling 5,000 tickets each night – making it a marketing triumph and the largest selling comedy show ever to come to the UAE.
Not a bad weekend for McIntyre, who is continuing a tour that generated Dh120 million for McIntrye in 2012 alone. The weekend’s sell-out is testament too to Dubai’s growing appeal as a comedy hot-spot with the circuit getting busier – and venues bigger. Friday night’s show at Sheikh Rashid Hall in the DWTC packed in a capacity crowd, and with tickets ranging from Dh250 to Dh600 (and Dh1,000 for VIP tickets), it’s no small earner.
After a worthwhile warm-up by Yorkshireman Paul Tomkinson, McIntyre’s show began with a suit-me-up video of him beamed down from three huge screens, before the affable comedian bounced onto stage, quickly proclaiming he’s “working under a bit of pressure” and “doesn’t want to get arrested” for offending local sensibilities.
He tells the crowd he loves Dubai and kicks off the show with a diatribe of fun-poking at the extravagance and opulence of Dubai. Hmm. It’s not altogether unexpected, but it is rather funny. He jokes he’s staying in the tallest hotel in the world, where watches cost £760 million pounds, and – in a city of superlatives – drivers observe the smallest braking distance in the world.
The largely ex-pat crowd were hooked, guffawing and nodding in recognition. And yes, the crowd was largely ex-pats, with no shortage of fellow Britons, but a good mix other nationalities and Emiratis too.
The humour continued – McIntyre revels in Dubai’s amazing hotels (“it’s a towel wonderland”) and the apparent local “love for gold and marble”: he jokes about wearing marble trousers, owning gold bags and the difficulty of climbing into bed with that very expensive and heavy watch (he drags his aching arm along the floor).
The crowd certainly embraced the gags and though his faux-fact checking with his backstage entourage every so often (“Am I ok, will I be arrested?” he shouts repeatedly) is a tad contrived, the audience meets it with whistle of appreciation.
It’s a smooth production, with well-scripted segments that move from his life on the road as a travelling comedian to the familiar trawl through domestic life, marital disharmony, dental check ups and bad Scottish weather: “Glasgow being the only place where you open the curtains and your room gets darker.”
It’s funny stuff and as McIntyre has had astounding success in the UK it’s little wonder the diaspora would enjoy such revelry away from home. While much of it has been heard before, McIntyre kept his delivery fresh and seemed earnest when he tells the audience, “I was nervous, and this is going well.”
He has often been criticised for being too mainstream and there’s nothing overly new or wild about this show, it’s very satisfactory. Putting on a long-running stand-up show that has already been seen by 700,000 people is no small feat, and it’s bound to demand fodder with broad-based appeal. The fans didn’t seem disappointed.
“He’s our favourite comedian,” Nassim Nasser from Lebanon told tabloid! after the show. “He’s very funny, we really enjoyed it,” his British wife Janet added.
“Very funny, I was laughing from the moment I went in,” Sabrina O’Sullivan from Ireland said.
Closing with an encore of more original fare and a standing ovation from most in the hall, McIntyre can leave Dubai a happy man.