the red penguin

Brian Butterfield – Bush Hall, Shepherd’s Bush

The gig was a warm up for his debut tour, and not listed on the poster. But it’s definitely worth printing the poster.

Saturday is treat day! Along with some fantastic gigs from Blur and Pulp – and a new Blur album – this summer has been full of surprises. The surprises continue with a live gig ahead of a full tour from everyone’s favourite TV businessman, Brian Butterfield.

I absolutely loved the Peter Serafinowicz Show when it was broadcast in 2007 and never understood why the BBC never kept it going. I still have the DVD somewhere – and all the episodes are still up on YouTube. But I’m surprised that after 16 years he’s decided to take Brian Butterfield out on the road.

This was the first time I’d been to Bush Hall for 9 years – and it hasn’t changed at all in that time. There are some things I hate about it. They don’t ever engage with anyone, they didn’t post any info about this show anywhere, they don’t answer the phone or reply to social media. And if you want a beer, it has to be a craft beer, the Beazer Homes League of beers. And they laid out 300 chairs which look like – and felt like – they’d been sequestered from a primary school. But the venue’s nice inside.

As a result of the “no info” other than a “start time” of 7.30pm, we joined about 250 other people queuing up in the rain, as we’d all got there after about 7pm expecting to get in. They opened the doors at around 7.45pm. As I once ran a bar, this is inexplicable. Why don’t the staff just turn up early and sell a few drinks to people?

Anyway enough complaining – Bush Hall is in Shepherd’s Bush, which has 500 restaurants per square yard, so we managed to get something to eat from the excellent Tiger’s Diner. This was the best burger I’ve had in years. I’m not really a burger and chips guy and I hate the brioche efforts they sell for 20 quid in pubs now. This was much much better, and much cheaper too.

So onto the gig. His whole act is “funny incompetence”, exemplified by little attentions to detail that you’d miss if you weren’t paying attention. For example, he doesn’t mention his email address on his mailing list, but it’s

All the same, I had no idea what to expect – and I didn’t think he’d have an hour and 45 minutes of material either, as all of the clips on the TV show only added up to about 12 minutes. But it was great to see him back – and the beauty of playing a character like this is that he looks exactly the same which just adds to the nostalgia.

The show took the form of a very badly run business seminar. Some of it was laugh-out-loud hilarious and some of it seemed to drag, but overall most of it worked well, and considering it was his first live show I thought it was pretty good. The audience were very receptive to him too.

There was a bit of audience participation in the show which I managed to avoid, although the people who got up on stage seemed to be just a little bit too confident in that situation, and I wonder if they were plants. (Might be a bit unfair – but I would have gone to pieces up there).

I didn’t hang around to get a Butterfield University certificate or buy a packet of bonbonbonbons (yes, really). Shepherd’s Bush is so far away from Essex it might as well be in Wales. Headed back home at around 10.45, to endure all the cancelled trains at Liverpool Street.

I won’t post up too many spoilers, but my favourite line had me laughing more than I should have. “I should point out this that isn’t an encore. I simply forgot to do this part of the show.” Now that’s how you come back for more.

Sunday 6 August 2023, 13788 views

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