Shameless crowd pleaser that he is, emerging with an extended modern dance interpretation of Frozen's 'Let It Go', Hal Cruttenden nevertheless seems that little bit spikier this year. With a brass tacks assessment of Scottish football and avowed pride in his status as a sneery member of the liberal, middle-class elite, he maintains that he's struggling to not be political while routinely admonishing himself for giving offence. Of course, that's relative to his established persona as a cosy, camp, self-obsessed and mainstream comic. But while his Northern Irish wife is largely, but not entirely, spared a portrayal as a threatening harridan for once, he's elsewhere inclined to a bit of provocation.
Acknowledging that sexual harassment and equal pay discrimination have dominated the news recently, his take is frustration that he's turned middle aged just as white, middle-class and middle-aged men's power seems to be waning. Envisioning a world run by women after men are violently wiped out, he suckers in expectations before delivering some tongue-in-cheek gender stereotyping, playing the crowd like a pantomime villain. As devil's advocate, he argues for a Jacob Rees-Mogg premiership, before suggesting a very funny and persuasive assessment of Adele's mood having ramifications for national security.
Exceptionally slick and punchily witty, Cruttenden is at his most compelling when he drops his affected stances, with an intriguing insight into how he came to be one of the first to know of Princess Diana's death and his encounters with Italian football hooligans. More of his genuine thoughts and less grandstanding would be appreciated.