fri 24/05/2019

Comedy Reviews

Marcus Brigstocke, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

It's striking what a broken heart can do for a comic. Not least it can provide him with some new material, but also make him take a step back to reevaluate what he has. In Marcus Brigstocke's case it led him into a horrible depression but happily, via some other byways, to this new show, Why the Long Face?, which started life at the Edinburgh Fringe last year.

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Jena Friedman, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

“It's a really bad word,” Jena Friedman says as she opens her show, American C*nt. “...American.” And so begins an evening of ultra-dry, drawled-out and darkly feminist wit that encompasses everything from recent atrocities in Belgium and Donald Trump to abortion and Hamas.

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Isy Suttie, Touring

Veronica Lee

Isy Suttie, an ever-smiling and engaging stand-up, may come across as a real-life version of Dobby, the perpetually nice character she played in Peep Show, but that's somewhat to deceive.

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Stewart Francis, Pavilion Theatre, Worthing

Thomas H Green

Before Canadian comedian and British TV panel show regular Stewart Francis arrives on stage his audience are entertained with his one-panel cartoons. These, Sharpie-penned in black, are projected as a slideshow (sample: in a fishbowl, one fish says to the other, “It’s all kicked off again in the Middle East” – title “Topical Fish”).

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Reeves & Mortimer, Leicester De Montfort Hall

Veronica Lee

Even if the evening had turned out to be rubbish, there was always going to be a warm welcome for Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer's return to live performance with 25 Years of Reeves & Mortimer: The Poignant Moments. Aside from the obvious room for nostalgia, Mortimer almost didn't make it; this tour could start only after he had emergency triple bypass surgery last year.

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Dave Gorman, Touring

Veronica Lee

Dave Gorman was probably the first comic to have embraced technology in his stand-up. Albeit, in the early days, it was using 35mm slides, hand-drawn graphs and an overhead projector, but then latterly a computer and the ever-more influential Internet and social media. And so, as is a feature at all his shows, there's a large screen on stage when I see him at the Royal Festival Hall and when he says: “I've put it on a graph” there's a loud cheer of recognition from the audience.

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Eddie Izzard, Palace Theatre

Veronica Lee

Eddie Izzard tells us at the top of a show lasting two-and-a-half hours that he's on the home straight in a mammoth tour taking in 28 countries. He first performed Force Majeure in 2013 and now, in a slightly rebooted form, he parks it in the West End for an extended run as Force Majeure Reloaded.

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Anne Edmonds, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

When Anne Edmonds comes on stage I notice a banjo sitting ominously in a corner. She is full of Australian bonhomie and energy, instantly connecting with the audience, and our first impression is that she's a likeable chatterbox, telling anecdotes without punchlines - and she begins with a lengthy one about spewing copiously on a New Year's Day flight in front of her parents some years ago.

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Bill Bailey, Vaudeville Theatre

Veronica Lee

What a trouper Bill Bailey is. Just as he's introducing what is clearly meant to be a showstopper in which he and the audience would create a number in the style of “maestro of melancholia” Moby, his technology lets him down. But no fear, Bailey ad libs for several minutes as he tries to rectify the problem, knocks out an Irish reel on one of the many instruments on stage, and moves on when it's clear that the “Moby song" will have to remain unsung.

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Ed Byrne, Theatre Royal, Winchester

Veronica Lee

The show's title, Outside, Looking In, might suggest we're in for some philosophising from Ed Byrne – but then, after 22 years in the business, the Irish observational comic has earned the right. And indeed, he covers subjects such as feminism, slut-shaming and gender imbalance, but in the mix there is also some material about the perils of dating and a graphic description of food poisoning.

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