mon 23/11/2020

Live From the Grand Hall, BAC review - strong mixed bill to start autumn season | reviews, news & interviews

Live From the Grand Hall, BAC review - strong mixed bill to start autumn season

Live From the Grand Hall, BAC review - strong mixed bill to start autumn season

Lockdown stories, personal woes and a bit of politics

Sarah Keyworth was MC for the night of stand-up comedy

After a successful – and very welcome - summer season of gigs in its outdoor courtyard, Battersea Arts Centre has come indoors for its autumn season of comedy from the Grand Hall; it started with this strong mixed bill curated by the promoters Berk's Nest.

After a successful – and very welcome - summer season of gigs in its outdoor courtyard, Battersea Arts Centre has come indoors for its autumn season of comedy from the Grand Hall; it started with this strong mixed bill curated by the promoters Berk's Nest. BAC was using, for the first time, technology similar to that which has been used for a little while now by BBC One's Question Time and Radio 4's The News Quiz – an interactive experience in which presenters and performers can converse directly with the audience at home, and can hear their applause.

Sarah Keyworth, MC for the night, womanfully dealt with some initial glitches – people talking at home or a television on in the background, for instance. “This is every comedian's worst nightmare and I'm living it,” she said.

But things settled down and she rattled through routines about being gay, her fear of death and how she got through lockdown before introducing the first act – Helen Bauer, a strong opener for the evening. Bauer said she was born confident and admitted: “I think I may have too much self-esteem,” a result, she thinks, of having a mother who was an uber-liberal drama teacher who instilled it in her, as well as passing on a great lifeskill – she can now cry on demand. She also delivered a waspishly funny routine about enjoying YouTube fails, her particular favourite being those disasters that befall brides on their happy day.

Rosie Jones described herself as a triple threat - “disabled, gay and a prick, so the BBC loves me”. She said she had planned 2020 to be a year of going to far-flung new places for work, but instead spent five months in Scarborough with her parents, who have a very different idea of what makes like interesting.

Kemah Bob did a short set that mixed the personal and political, announcing that she was pansexual. “It's the same as bisexual but with way more street cred,” she deadpanned, before moving on to the Black Lives Matter movement and wryly noting how white people had suddenly discovered it this year. She packed a lot in to her very enjoyable 10 minutes.

Sara Barron, a ball of crackling energy in her full-length shows, kept that going here. The American “pandemicked” here, she said, when she discovered that she doesn't want to be a mum. Or rather, she would like to be a dad, the 40-year-old man kind whose greying hair makes him attractive to 25-year-olds and for whom seeing his kids for half an hour once a day makes him a hero.

Top of the bill was Josie Long, working through some new material, mixing, as ever, whimsy, surreal invention and political comment. She has come off Twitter, preferring the “methadone of Instagram”, and was delighted to be back on stage as she had been “sat at home and missing everything”. Things she missed included being in the chill-out room at Ministry of Sound, or taking ketamine – neither of which she has ever done, by the way, but we got her meaning.

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