Norwich – Norwich Playhouse (Tom Rosenthal – Manhood)

Liam had booked these tickets for us to go and see Tom Rosenthal’s comedy tour when it was in Norwich. This was originally on 26 March 2020, which got delayed to earlier in 2021, but he persisted with yet another date and this one worked out.

It’s several years since I’ve been to the Playhouse (not including visits to the venue’s bar, which I’ve visited more regularly), the last time was to see Chris Addison.

The performance started with an introduction from Rosenthal, he’s much faster paced than I expected and also not as tall. He dealt with that matter though, it’s a common misapprehension caused by him apparently often starring alongside short actors, such as in Plebs and Friday Night Dinner. It’s rare for someone to say just how nervous they are, but that seemed a genuine concern of his, all very personal and also personable.

This was the section of the performance at the beginning where photos were allowed, and this might have been a really acceptable photo if someone hadn’t decided to stand up at the time. Certainly not ideal. Rosenthal joked that there were a fair few seats empty, but I genuinely suspect he was very slightly annoyed at those who didn’t turn up. I would be, so I’d be pleased if he did too.

There was then a support act, whose name I’ve forgotten and meant to look up but now can’t find (I had better not verge into theatre reviews), as it’s not the support act comedian who was on other parts of the tour. Anyway, that was also decent, with more political commentary, interspersed with an unusual offer of a gig which he had received earlier that day.

As for the main event, this was primarily a one hour comedy show about circumcision. That’s a brave and punchy subject to talk about, but Rosenthal isn’t happy with the decisions that his parents, who aren’t particularly religious, made for him when he was a baby. His parents are of course not entirely anonymous here, his mother was a producer for Newsnight and his father is Jim Rosenthal, the sports commentator. It must make for quite an interesting debate around the dinner table when he’s home, as it’s a subject that he admits he’s raised on more than a few occasions.

I won’t go into the exact routine as that would be something of a spoiler, but it was cleverly put together, delivered at a frenetic pace and was as far as I was concerned, actually pretty impressively done. Rosenthal also admitted that he knew people would go and see him because they liked the comedies that he’d been in, then allowing him to talk about this whole manhood subject. He managed to get some science into the whole routine and he gently questioned the logic that some religions follow on circumcision.

I was already quite a fan of Rosenthal, he’s a quick-witted comedian with a fair few mental health issues that he openly talks about, primarily relating to OCD. What I thought was quite inspirational was just open, honest and human Rosenthal was. Some comedians often appear to have it all going for them, when actually the truth is no doubt nearly always more complex. Rosenthal seemed quite content with talking about the real him, which I thought he did with competence, integrity and lots of humour.

For anyone who wants to follow him on social media, he’s on Twitter at https://twitter.com/rosentweets.