Review: Sandi Toksvig is one funny valentine

Adventurous nonsense… Sandi Toksvig
16 Oct 2013 @ 11.46 am
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Adventurous nonsense… Sandi Toksvig
Adventurous nonsense… Sandi Toksvig

Review: Sandi Toksvig Live: My Valentine
Venue: Grand Opera House, October 15

I’ve had a small but perfectly proportioned girl crush on Sandi Toksvig ever since she enticed me in to her flat with silly games and sandwiches when I was 12.

Before you call Esther Rantzen on my behalf, let me explain. I had always been something of a Swap Shop kind of kid.

Then in 1982 ITV launched No 73 and suddenly my Saturday mornings revolved around a dinky Danish woman doing silly things (“we’re going to transform this wardrobe into a mini hovercraft and sail to the Isle of Wight!”) and introducing numerous rounds of The Sandwich Quiz (which was like Mastermind, only with a sliced white loaf and some wafer-thin ham).

This marked the start of a minor obsession that has seen me chasing Sandi through the radio and TV schedules, through far too many episodes of The News Quiz and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue than is strictly good for you, until I finally caught up with her in person at York’s Grand Opera House.

Her new stand-up show, My Valentine, is a love letter to life.

An autobiographical romp through 55 years of family nonsense, adventurous travel (often involving small boats and smelly men) and piles of books (her own 27 publications – or is it 26? – she can’t remember; and the favourites that got her through the horrors of English boarding school), it’s a warm and uplifting experience for everyone involved.

The Grand Opera House audience – mainly women, mainly middle-aged, mainly hooting with laughter like a barn of happily demented owls – joined in enthusiastically with Sandi’s history quiz (hands on your head for true; hands on your bottom for false), laughed with gusto at her beautifully-timed stories of lust-for-life adventure that usually ended up more derring-doh! than derring-do, and didn’t leave her hanging when she invited them to ask questions at the end.

For me, the first half of the show was by far the funniest, leaving my face literally aching with the exertion of near-constant laughter.

But, while there were great moments in the post-interval performance, it felt a little flatter and the Q&A left a lot to be desired (partly because one or two of the questioners seemed a little hard of hearing and another was downright tetchy).

Overall though, this was a great show from a great Dane, proving, if proof were needed, that the Thumbelina of comedy can still produce big laughs.