COMEDY REVIEW Ken Dodd/ Floral Pavilion Theatre.
ANY would-be comedian could develop a dozen or more routines just by listening to Ken Dodd. If they needed good jokes they would find that Dodd delivers hundreds of them in a single night.
Of course, you have to be prepared to spend time in a Ken Dodd show.
His Happiness Show at the Floral ran nearly six hours and that was an early finish for him.
While he shared the stage with others for this final night at the Floral Pavilion before the theatre's demolition, the bulk of the time was spent with Ken standing alone on stage, cracking jokes and playing with his audience.
One can only admire his stamina in a year in which he celebrates 50 professional years in the business. Ken's joke-telling style, almost throwaway at times but with the important stuff timed to perfection, is a model of the comedian's art.
He strikes a rapport with his audience by selecting individuals and addressing remarks to them at regular intervals, sticks up his hair, pulls funny faces, snaps his braces, often laughs at his own silliness and generally creates a mood of high larks and fun.
He is even confident enough now to admit when he forgets jokes or even where he is in his lengthy routines. He will ask for help from his two pit musicians and even take a prompt from the audience.
For Dodd it is all part of a relaxed and, above all, friendly show.
He had trod the Floral boards many times in the past and was clearly moved by the poignancy of the night, while warning fans sitting near the outer walls that a giant swinging ball may come crashing through at any moment.
The act today is an amalgam of all his 50 years, from gags about hen-pecked husbands and nagging wives to satirical comments about Gordon Brown.
His variety show was also a typically mixed selection, from veteran Mavis Whyte, a star of the old Melody Inn Revue, doing some still clever vocal impersonations, a good magic act from Christian, regular singing companion Sybie Jones accompanying herself on piano and guitar, singer Mike Byrne, dancing children, dancing girls and Chris Byrne, general manager of Liverpool's Liner Hotel, singing on a stage where he last appeared in the 1970s as a teenager.
His star guest was anther veteran, Norman Collier.
Ken hoped to be the first act to reopen the new look theatre in 2009. No doubt, he would get another sell-out audience to welcome him back.
Ken Dodd recalls his many shows at the Floral Pavilion Theatre, in New Brighton Picture: EDDIE BARFORD / eb080307bdodd-1