mon 06/07/2020

Comedy reviews, news & interviews

Dom Joly / Daniel Sloss, Brent Cross reviews - UK's first drive-in comedy shows

Veronica Lee

It was a weary and frustrated Dom Joly (★★) who left the stage after performing the first drive-in comedy show in the UK. Sadly it had been, as he said earlier, “the first car crash at a drive-in”.

Desiree Burch, Soho Theatre On Demand review - fantastical storytelling

Veronica Lee

You may have seen Desiree Burch, a Californian now living in London, on The Mash Report on BBC One.

Lockdown Comedy 2: where to get your laughs this...

Veronica Lee

Daniel KitsonDaniel Kitson, in a rare and welcome move, has released his 2009 Edinburgh Fringe show, The Interminable Suicide of Gregory Church, in a...

Jerry Seinfeld, Netflix review - not bad for a...

Veronica Lee

Jerry Seinfeld said in a recent interview that this Netflix special – 23 Hours to Kill – may be his last stand-up show. That's a shame, as there's...

Lockdown Comedy 1: where to get your laughs this...

Veronica Lee

It looks like live comedy will be impossible for a while yet, but there are lots of things going on to keep us entertained. This is just some content...

Aditi Mittal, Soho Theatre On Demand review - cows, mothers and fempowerment

Veronica Lee

Indian comic on how she discovered feminism

Simon Amstell, Netflix review - wisdom and wisecracks

Veronica Lee

Confessional existential angst

Blu-ray: Buster Keaton - Three Films, Vol. 2

Graham Rickson

Technical brilliance and belly laughs: three features from a great director at his peak

Rachel Fairburn, Go Faster Stripe review - smart and subtle gags

Veronica Lee

Feminism and unlikely heroes

Lazy Susan, Soho Theatre On Demand review - sketch duo's ingeniously plotted show

Veronica Lee

Freya Parker and Celeste Dring examine male behaviour

Michelle Wolf: Joke Show, Netflix review - edgy and original material

Veronica Lee

US comic takes no prisoners

Shappi Khorsandi, Soho Theatre On Demand - enjoyable run-through of her career

Veronica Lee

Two decades as a stand-up

Roy Hudd: 'I was just trying to make 'em laugh'

Jasper Rees

The most traditional of entertainers, who has died at 83, harked back to a vanished age

Steve Martin and Martin Short, SSE Hydro Glasgow review - old friends bring a touch of vaudeville

Veronica Lee

Hoary gags, music, and even a soft-shoe shuffle

Tom Rosenthal, The Hawth, Crawley review - circumcision made funny

Veronica Lee

Knob gags, but with a serious purpose

John Shuttleworth, Leicester Square Theatre review - reflections on life in the slow lane

Veronica Lee

Graham Fellows' alter ego returns

Lucy Porter, Quarterhouse, Folkestone review - confessions of an ex-Brownie

Veronica Lee

Relentlessly upbeat show

Ahir Shah, West End Centre, Aldershot review - a millennial's existential angst

Veronica Lee

Religion, politics - and vaping

Simon Brodkin, The Stables, Milton Keynes review - comics casts off his Lee Nelson character

Veronica Lee

His debut first person show

Alexei Sayle, Oxford Playhouse review - return of the political bruiser

Veronica Lee

A lot to get off his chest after seven years away

Simon Evans, Blackheath Halls review - a big reveal worth waiting for

Veronica Lee

The comic's most personal show yet

Jen Brister, Soho Theatre review - parenting, privilege and porn under scrutiny

Veronica Lee

Domestic anecdotes and political insights

David Baddiel, RST, Stratford-upon-Avon review - taking on the trolls

Veronica Lee

Twitter laid bare

Jayde Adams, Soho Theatre review - witty celebrity takedown

Veronica Lee

Bristolian examines fourth-wave feminism in the Instagram age

Matt Forde, Soho Theatre review - Brexit and beyond

Veronica Lee

Cogent political analysis

Flo & Joan, Soho Theatre review - entertaining wit and whimsy

Veronica Lee

Musical duo say Bros 'inspired' the show

Frank Skinner, Garrick Theatre review - a masterclass in owning the room

Veronica Lee

Pleasing mix of personal and professional anecdotes

Leicester Comedy Festival Gala Preview Show, De Montfort Hall review - mixed bag in mixed bill

Veronica Lee

Ian Stone ends evening on a high note

Best of 2019: Comedy

Veronica Lee

My (mostly) highs and (a few) lows

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.

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