Tag Archives: Keith Donnelly

A Letter to the Editor 16

In which The Author writes an unsolicited (and unpublished) review

About fifteen years or so ago the extraordinary comedian and impressionist Phil Cool came to the Coliseum in Aberdare. I went to the show and afterwards I submitted an unsolicited review to the Cynon Valley Leader. It wasn’t published, but I found my typewritten copy when I was looking for something else yesterday. I decided to check out what Phil Cool is up to these days, and was sad to learn that he’s currently coming to the end of his farewell tour. For nostalgia’s sake, here’s what I made of his show…
From the flight deck of the Starship Enterprise to the Amazon rainforest; from the undersea world of Jacques Cousteau to Monument Valley; from the Royal Variety Performance to a classroom in 1950s Lancashire – only one man can take you to all these places and more besides in the space of two hours. Welcome to the surreal world of Phil Cool.
Paying a welcome visit to Aberdare as part of a marathon UK tour, Phil and his sidekick Keith Donnelly kept a rather meagre audience in stitches continuously. Keith, perhaps better known as Jasper Carrott’s scriptwriter, warmed the evening up beautifully with his intimate routine – perhaps more suited to a smaller venue, but great fun nonetheless. I hadn’t expected a support act, so it was all the more enjoyable to see someone whose name I knew, armed with his guitar and repertoire of silly stories, on the stage less than fifteen feet away.
Which is, of course, the best vantage point from which to appreciate Phil Cool’s mutations. A master of physical comedy, Phil’s unique selling point is his almost unnatural ability to become the person he’s representing on stage.
Whereas Mike Yarwood and his contemporaries utilised make-up, wigs and costumes for their characterisations, and Rory Bremner relies mainly on his voice for effect, Phil simply distorts his features into whatever shape he requires – Prince Charles, Bill Clinton, Mr Spock, a giant turtle. Armed only with a pair of glasses he becomes Eric Morecambe or Michael Caine; add a false beard and you can spend ten minutes in the company of Rolf Harris. The show went by so quickly I’d need deep hypnosis to remember it all, and the lady two seats away must need tranquilisers after tonight.
It’s a pity (once again) that the attendance was so poor. Given the choice of an oft-repeated James Bond on the TV, or two hours of sheer lunacy with these guys, I’d take the latter every time. Perhaps someone should tactfully suggest to the Coliseum management that a few posters around the place well in advance of events like this wouldn’t go amiss. When I mentioned it to my friends over the weekend, very few of them even knew the show was happening at all.
Still, when Phil Cool finally left the stage, he said, ‘See you here again soon.’ Phil, you’ve got yourself a deal.