sat 24/08/2019

Krater Comedy Club, Brighton Komedia 25th Birthday review - a south coast institution celebrates | reviews, news & interviews

Krater Comedy Club, Brighton Komedia 25th Birthday review - a south coast institution celebrates

Krater Comedy Club, Brighton Komedia 25th Birthday review - a south coast institution celebrates

A boisterous evening featuring comedians Dave Fulton, Tiff Stevenson and Glenn Wool

Scalpel-sharp Krater compere Stephen Grant bemoans his decades in the game© Ian Greenland

The Komedia is a Brighton Institution and celebrates its birthday tonight in a suitably raucous fashion. The Komedia began in 1994, founded by the directors of the Umbrella Theatre Company, and styled on the cabaret spaces they’d experienced touring Europe. It moved to its current premises in 1999, turning a ramshackle labyrinthine building that housed a hippy-style market (before that a Tesco) into a labyrinthine building housing a bar-venue-cinema complex, with the central hub in the large basement.

So much for architectural history! There’s also another anniversary this year, that of the Krater Comedy Club which began in June 1999. It is the Komedia’s flagship night and this evening, before the comedy begins, a short film is shown of multiple comedians such as Romesh Ranganathan, Mel Giedroyc, Milton Jones, Lucy Porter, Ssean Walsh, and Omid Djalili paying light-hearted tribute. The evening is a sell-out, the room set out cabaret-style with tables and easy, hearty food served between acts.

Before things kick off there’s a surprisingly strongly-worded warning that persistent hecklers will be removed, but then Brighton is stag and hen central - there are packs of them in tonight – and we all know how that can go, so fair enough. Compere Stephen Grant has been with Krater since they began. He is smart and fast, quite as funny as the main acts, reacting to audience input at mercurial speed. He ramps up the mood ribbing a teenage couple who have – foolishly – chosen to have their first date in the front row, before deflating himself with the comment that he’s “talking to people who are younger than my career.”

First on is US comedian Dave Fulton. He looks like a scruffily suave, desiccated older Bradley Cooper and his wit is dry as sand, enhanced by a twinkle in his countenance. Much of his set sends up his supposed Hicksville past in small town Idaho, and compares our national temperaments, raising a big laugh with the observation that whereas in America sunny positivity is seen as just that, in Britain “enthusiasm is a sign of weakness.”

His set climaxes with an extended bout of gripping biographical storytelling built around his past cocaine use. It’s based on an evening years ago that involved paranoia, guns, and a very misguided attempt to create a front door spy-hole. It’s edgy and bloody funny. He leaves us on a high and, after a break, Stephen Grant returns to mercilessly apply his surgical wit to a Swedish member of the audience, rendering some fabulously off-colour jokes about the true nature of Viking rape and pillage.

Tiff Stevenson (pictured below) is next. She is best known, at least to me, as “Tanya”, the boss of the hair salon in BBC comedy success story People Just Do Nothing. Cheeky-faced and loudly dressed, she’s quick to lay her socio-political cards on the table, destroying Nigel Farage with a torrent of foul-mouthed wordplay and later referring to Trump’s bedroom persona as a “blancmange carcass”. She’s good on voices too, doing a great Joanna Lumley and sending up all the men who find such posh schtick sexy.

tiffHer humour is often class-based and PC, but very self-aware about it, commenting on everything from Bexit to the way some men tell women to “Cheer up, love”, She’s good value and receives the applause she deserves. Unfortunately, at this point this writer receives a call about a minor domestic crisis and has to leave before Canadian stand-up Glenn Wool can take the stage.

Some journos would bluff such a thing out, but I am hesitant. There is a famous story about a writer who left one of Whitney Houston’s final UK concerts halfway through and submitted a review marvelling at how she delivered such a high quality performance with all she’d been through, not realising that during the latter half of the concert, as all the other reviews noted, Houston’s voice fell drastically to pieces. I will not tempt fate, then, but sign off instead wishing the Komedia and Krater a happy anniversary on the back of a typically vibrant evening of drink, food and loud, massed laughter.

 

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