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It’s hard to believe comedian Miles Jupp is still only 44 given that he seems to have been a mid-life curmudgeon since starting out in stand-up comedy more than 20 years ago. A well-spoken (ok, posh) English gentleman even then (one of his earliest shows was entitled Gentlemen Prefer Brogues), over the years his droll diatribes about middle-class life have been all the better for his delightfully eloquent delivery, which also heightens the impact of his unexpectedly liberal views and dropping of the occasional expletive.

Acting, TV and radio work have kept him away from stand-up for a few years, but he’s returned in fine form, in a show that finds him with something rather more important to moan (or bang on) about than belligerent queuing on railway platforms or the clutter amassed by his wife and five kids. Both of the above still get a mention – the latter so regularly it features on souvenir mugs – but the show’s primary focus is his hospitalisation and surgery to remove a brain tumour only diagnosed after he’d suffered a seizure while filming a TV role in 2021.

Hospital treatment has become an increasingly popular topic for comedians of a certain vintage, and Jupp is as good as any at mining the experience for every last laugh, whether it’s a humiliating MRSA swab (“how far do you insert it?”), over-confident brain surgeon (“better than the opposite”) or the paltry amount of marmalade served with his toast (“take care of the little things and the MRI scanners will take care of themselves”).

Jupp serves it all up in a deliciously superior (he happily acknowledges his “expensive education”) and brilliantly deadpan way, but there’s an underlying soul and heart to the hilarity too. Throwaway jibes about Brexit, the government and NHS (under)funding land brilliantly as matter-of-fact asides, and it’s fairly obvious that the brush with mortality has given him a greater appreciation for life, despite claims that his positive new outlook “lasted two weeks”.

The stiff-upper-lip avoidance of mawkishness or sentimentality is only to be expected from the pompous public-school persona he’s been perfecting over the past two decades, but the occasional glimpse beyond that, and into a genuinely affecting story, makes On I Bang a triumph on every level.

5 stars

Reviewed by Steve Adams at Birmingham Town Hall on Thursday 8 February. Miles' tour also stops at Crewe Lyceum Theatre, Thursday 11 AprilRoyal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa, Wednesday 15 May and Lichfield Garrick, Friday 17 May