Paul Smith, Following, York Barbican

CHEEKY chappy comedian Paul Smith is a popular compere at the Hot Water Comedy Club in his home city of Liverpool - but has built up such a following through social media that he is now performing in larger venues and arenas across the UK.

His one-night-stand at York Barbican last night was a sell out, so he’s back for a second date on November 7.

From the get-go you could tell this was going to be a lively evening. The queues at the Barbican bars were the longest I’d seen, lined with large groups of men as well as couples on a night out. Not surprisingly, there was a great deal of heckling throughout the gig, which Smith handled with blunt expertise.

The dad-of-two began his warm-up with a bit of banter with the front-row, making fun of their names, jobs and flirting with the women.

Despite the show being billed as suitable for over-14s, it should come with an X rating. The swear words and sexual references poured down as heavy and unrelenting as the rain outside, and Smith mined for laughs an unsettling seam of misogyny, most shockingly aimed at his wife.

Marital disharmony is a running theme, but Smith is at his best when he is sharing more intimate parts of his life, such as looking after his autistic eldest son, being a secret eater and concocting ways to nip out of the house for a burger - and there’s an amusing anecdote about his stag trip to Berlin when he fell under the spell of a Glaswegian stripper.

Disarmingly, he acknowledges he’s hard to put up with too. “It’s funny on stage,” he tells his fans. “But in real life you’d punch my head in”.

Maxine Gordon