THE phrase 'national treasure' is a cliched one.
But Barry Cryer is a national treasure. His 'one man show' at Windsor's Theatre Royal on Tuesday showed why - although actually it was a two man, as he was backed by pianist Colin Sell.
Mr Cryer, who wrote for Eric Morecambe, Tommy Cooper, Kenny Everett and Max Miller emerged in middle age as a brilliant raconteur and jokesmith.
He cheerfully admits to being 80 now - 'I try not to buy green bananas' - and joked about his butterfly mind. But that mind - with occasional prompting from Mr Sell - would suddenly alight on a word or a phrase and come up with another gem of hilarity, after something remembered from his encounters with the comic greats of the last century.
He has a quiet knack of capturing the way some of those men talked when he recreates their jokes - jokes he may even have put in their mouths.
His appearances on radio's I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue are masterclasses on how to be gloriously rude without offending anybody.
Some of the tales and jokes he told at Windsor were familiar. But many were new and blissfully funny, the sort you try and memorise for future use.
His 'number two' at the Theatre Royal Colin Sell is of course the butt of numerous jokes about his playing when he accompanies Barry Cryer and co-stars on Sorry I Haven't a Clue. It was a treat to actually see him and hear him, particularly when he delivered witty little ditties of his own that recalled that great duo Flanders and Swann.
Royal Windsor Arts Festival continues this week with Paul Potts and Lord Robert Winston. For more information visit www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk