You might think Lee Evans has a cheek being in Oxford over three nights. For there is no attempt to disguise the purpose of his stint: it says on your £31 ticket: “Work in Progress.” This was a warm-up for his arena tour, which includes four nights at the O2 and four nights at Wembley Arena. His last tour proved the biggest comedy tour of all time. This one could be even bigger.

These days, great old theatres like Oxford’s are where he goes to try out his jokes and polish his delivery. But does anyone feel short changed? No. For his shows here hardly appear like rehearsals — given the huge energy he invested into two-and-a-half-hour performances, with him sweating for laughs as he races around like Norman Wisdom on speed.

His show ended with a well-earned standing ovation, the audience delighted to have been given an early look at what will emerge as the Roadrunner tour and the chance to enjoy the physicality of a Lee Evans performance close up rather than on a big arena screen. With 20 years experience to draw on, Evans turned his occasional reliance on pages of notes into something of a running gag, as he declared: “That’s getting cut out” or “Oxford, you made me do it.”

The new material hardly breaks new boundaries. Evans has the sense to base his comedy on the irritations of modern life: the computer shop, airport security queues and condescending waiters, with estate agents, solicitors and bankers all in his sights, along of course with his long-suffering wife. But his delivery is touched with comic genius. He seems genuinely taken aback by the thunderous applause that greets the Bohemian Rhapsody routine that ends the show. So who minds being a guinea pig if your sides are aching with laughter?