thu 25/08/2016

Comedy reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2016: Zoë Coombs Marr/ Randy/ Sarah Callaghan

Veronica Lee

Zoë Coombs Marr, Underbelly Cowgate ★★★Zoë Coombs Marr's debut show last year, Dave, gained a lot of attention, and rightly so. Dave is an old-school male comic whose line in misogyny doesn't sit well in modern comedy – even if his material might find an audience in the wider world.For this year's show, Trigger Warning, which won the Barry Award at the Melbourne Comedy Festival in April, Coombs Marr has broadened out the gag, here placing Dave in a situation in which he is hilariously out of...

Edinburgh Fringe 2016: Richard Gadd/ Kieran Hodgson/ Nazeem Hussain

Veronica Lee

Richard Gadd, The Banshee Labyrinth ★★★★★Richard Gadd wryly tells us at the end of Monkey See Monkey Do that he thought it was a good idea to put this thought-provoking show, with its deep seam of theatricality and emotion, in the comedy section of the Fringe brochure. And in truth it could sit easily as a theatre show, albeit one with frequent laughs. But at its heart is a deeply personal and highly revelatory story about an incident in Gadd's life that caused him to re-evaluate who he is both...

Edinburgh Fringe 2016: Bridget Christie/ Adam Kay...

Veronica Lee

Bridget Christie, The Stand ★★★★★When Bridget Christie planned this show, it was to be a work in progress about mortality for a tour starting later...

theartsdesk Q&A: Garrison Keillor

Jasper Rees

It's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, and has been for the past 42 years, ever since Garrison Keillor first reported on the town's goings-on in his...

Whose Line Is It Anyway?, London Palladium

Veronica Lee

At least half the audience for this live version of the short-form improv show, which was shown on Channel 4 between 1989 and 1998, couldn’t possibly...

David Baddiel - My Family: Not the Sitcom, Menier Chocolate Factory

Veronica Lee

Funny and challenging show about the comic's parents

Brighton Festival: Alexei Sayle, Corn Exchange

Nick Hasted

The Comedy Store legend reminisces, and sometimes sparks

Julian Clary, Touring

Veronica Lee

Filthy, funny chat from the 'renowned homosexual'

Marcus Brigstocke, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

Observational comic gets some gripes off his chest

Victoria Wood: 'Please could you repeat the question?'

Jasper Rees

She was the most gifted comedian of her generation, male or female

10 Questions for Comedian Alexei Sayle

Thomas H Green

The Liverpudlian Surrealist talks film, music and imaginary sandwich bars

Jena Friedman, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

Sparkling political comedy from the US stand-up

Isy Suttie, Touring

Veronica Lee

Laidback comedy about finding The One

Stewart Francis, Pavilion Theatre, Worthing

Thomas H Green

Canadian comedian demonstrates there's more to him than endless puns

Reeves & Mortimer, Leicester De Montfort Hall

Veronica Lee

The gloriously daft duo return

Dave Gorman, Touring

Veronica Lee

Likeable comic points out life's inanities

Eddie Izzard, Palace Theatre

Veronica Lee

Surreal comic kicks off his West End run

Anne Edmonds, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

Australian character comic's suburban fantasy

Bill Bailey, Vaudeville Theatre

Veronica Lee

Comic at his poetic best

Ed Byrne, Theatre Royal, Winchester

Veronica Lee

Observational comic with a cutting edge

Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, Eventim Apollo

Jasper Rees

Oi! Time has not withered the two legends' characters or catchphrases

Dawn French, Vaudeville Theatre

Jasper Rees

Tears as well as laughter in a well-oiled stage memoir

Michael McIntyre, O2

Veronica Lee

The mega-popular stand-up's Happy & Glorious show is entertaining but not inspiring

Alan Carr, Touring

Veronica Lee

Businesslike show from the Chatty Man

Sam Simmons, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

London run for the Edinburgh Comedy Award winner

Kevin Bridges, Hammersmith Apollo

Veronica Lee

Otherwise polished young stand-up gets irritated with the audience and stomps off

Edinburgh Fringe 2015: Kieran Hodgson/ Richard Gadd/ Trygve Wakenshaw

Veronica Lee

Into the final lap at the world's biggest and best arts festival

Edinburgh Fringe 2015: Joseph Morpurgo/ Daphne/ Tom Parry

Veronica Lee

Counting down at the world's biggest and best arts festival

Edinburgh Fringe 2015: Nish Kumar/ Adam Hess/ Dial Medicine for Murder/ Larry Dean

Veronica Lee

Counting down at the world's biggest and best arts festival

Footnote: a brief history of British comedy

British comedy has a honourable history, dating back to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, through Shakespeare’s and Restoration plays to Victorian and Edwardian music hall and its offspring variety, and on to Monty Python’s Flying Circus, working-men’s clubs, 1980s alternative comedy, and today's hugely popular stand-up acts in stadiums seating up to 20,000 people.

In broadcast media, the immediate decades after the Second World War marked radio’s golden age for comedy, with shows such as ITMA, The Goons, Round the Horne and Beyond Our Ken. Many radio comedy shows transferred to even greater acclaim on television - such as Hancock’s Half Hour, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Knowing Me, Knowing You, The Day Today, Red Dwarf, The League of Gentlemen, Goodness Gracious Me and Little Britain.

In television, the 1970s and 1980s were the great age of British sitcom, when shows such as Steptoe and Son, Till Death Us Do Part, Rising Damp, Dad’s Army, Porridge, Yes, Minister, Only Fools and Horses, Fawlty Towers and Blackadder. They were marked by great writing, acting and directing, although the time should also be noted for great British dross such as On the Buses and Love Thy Neighbour.

By the 1990s, British sitcom had developed into intelligent über-comedy, with shows such as Absolutely Fabulous and The Office making dark or off-kilter (although some would say bad taste) shows such as Drop the Dead Donkey, Peep Show, Green Wing and The Inbetweeners possible. In film, British comedy has had three great ages - silent movies (Charlie Chaplin being their star), Ealing comedies (Passport to Pimlico perhaps the best ever) and Carry On films. The first are in a long tradition of daft physical humour, the second mark the dry sophistication of much British humour, and the last the bawdiness that goes back to Chaucer.

The 2000s marked the resurgence of live comedy, with acts (including Jimmy Carr, Peter Kay and Russell Howard) honing their talents at successive Edinburgh Fringes and their resulting TV, stadium tour and DVD sales making millionaires of dozens of UK comics. Comedians cross readily from TV to stand-up to film to West End comedy theatre. The British comedy industry is now a huge and growing commercial business, with star comics such as Peter Kay and Michael McIntyre grossing tens of millions of pounds from arena tours, and attendances of up to 20,000 at venues across the UK.

Close Footnote

Advertising feature

 

Belarus Free Theatre presents

BURNING DOORS

Wed 31 Aug - Sat 24 Sep 2016, 7.15pm (2.30pm Sat matinees)

Soho Theatre

Tickets from £10

 

Belarus Free Theatre combine forces with Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina to share stories of persecuted artists, living under dictatorship, who will not be silenced.

 

What happens when you are declared an enemy of the state simply for making art? Where do you belong when your government suppresses your basic right to expression? And how do you survive in one of the most brutal prison systems in the world?



 

This brand new production blends sensuous theatricality and vigorous physicality to shine a light on the suppression of artistic freedoms. Drawn from the real-life stories of Russian performance artist Petr Pavlensky, incarcerated Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and Maria Alyokhina, who makes her stage debut.

 

One of the bravest and most inspired underground troupes on the planet.’ New York Times

 

‘For the BFT, political theatre is not a genre, but a necessity.’ Vanity Fair

 

Created in partnership with ArtReach as part of Journeys Festival International; Co-commissioned by Art Centre Melbourne. Funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

 

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

latest in today

Six of the best: Theatre

Lee Hall's miraculous 'Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour' lead...

Julieta

Almodóvar's moving portrait of a mother's grief, adapted from Ali...

Soulful Islamic passion: the Najmuddin Saifuddin group

It can be dangerous to sing Qawwali - the greatest group of recent times is...

CD: Warhaus - We Fucked a Flame Into Being

Belgian singer stylishly realises ten tracks of doomed torch pop

They Drink It in the Congo, Almeida Theatre

New drama about the Congo is absorbing, but too long, too messy and too com...

theartsdesk at the Rosendal Festival: Schubert above a fjord

A half-Norwegian voyage around 1828 from Leif Ove Andsnes and friends

CD: Morgan Delt - Phase Zero

A muzzy, Sixties-influenced trip to inner space

Ripper Street, Series 4, BBC Two

A slow start back in Whitechapel: London busy before Jubilee

Prom 49: Quincy Jones Prom, Royal Albert Hall

A towering career is celebrated in style

Edinburgh 2016: Angel by Henry Naylor/ Horse in Careful/ Luc...

Theatre highlights from the world's biggest and best arts festival