Comedy reviews, news & interviews
Panti Bliss is not a name on many people's lips outside Ireland, but over the past year she has gone from little-known club performer to self-described “accidental activist”, and this utterly charming, funny and touching show tells her story.Panti (aka Rory O'Neill) is a drag artist who runs her own club in Dublin. Early last year she appeared on a chat show on Irish national broadcaster RTE, during which she made some innocuous remarks about people campaigning against equal marriage, calling...
Normally comedy critics tell people not to sit in the front row, lest they're picked on by a particularly boorish comic. No such problem for audiences at James Freedman's interesting and unusual show about the art of pickpocketing and more modern crimes; nobody is safe from being volunteered and, in the evening's memorable finale, the subject wasn't actually in the audience when one of Freedman's tricks made him the star of the show.Freedman, whose hands are insured for a million pounds, is as...
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.
Starring Pitch Perfect's Anna Kendrick and Smash's Jeremy Jordan, THE LAST FIVE YEARS by Tony award-winning composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown is a musical deconstruction of a love affair and a marriage, taking place over a five-year period. Jamie Wellerstein is a young, talented up-and-coming novelist who falls in love with Cathy Hiatt, a struggling actress.
Their story is told almost entirely through songs, using an intercutting time-line device. Cathy’s songs begin at the end of their marriage and move backwards in time to the beginning of their love affair, while Jamie’s start at the beginning of their relationship and move forward to the end of the marriage.
Its beautiful pop music score portrays an honest, heart-breaking, often funny exploration of love, and its consequences on individual identity.
The Last Five Years runs at the Empire Leicester Square from April 17–May 1, and then is released on VOD from May 1 and on DVD from May 4. To book tickets click here.
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