wed 08/07/2020

Comedy Reviews

Mr Swallow - Houdini, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

Nick Mohammed doesn't do things by halves as his chatty airhead alter ego Mr Swallow. Forget the scholarly approach of finely researched biographies of Harry Houdini (“boring!”); his “first-ever entirely true auto-biopic” of the magician and escapologist comes complete with conjuring tricks, song-and-dance numbers and a whole lot of laughs.

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The Great Indoors, ITV2

Veronica Lee

The main attraction of this new US sitcom for a UK audience is that two British actors - Stephen Fry and Susannah Fielding – appear in it. The basic premise is that Jack Gordon, a famed reporter, has led a thrilling outdoorsman life, writing about his adventures for the magazine Outdoor Limits.

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Scott Gibson, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

Scott Gibson won best newcomer at last year's Edinburgh Comedy Awards for Life After Death, about the near-fatal brain haemorrhage he had as a 24-year-old in 2009. It happened after the Glaswegian had been to Blackpool for a stag weekend with 11 mates, including the groom “Junkie Steve”. Some rich material for an hour of comedy in there...

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Michelle Wolf, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

American comic Michelle Wolf was nominated for best newcomer at this year's Edinburgh Comedy Awards with this show, So Brave, but she is also a writer on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. She's an acute observer both of human quirks and the American political scene.

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The best comedy DVDs of 2016

Veronica Lee

The period before Christmas is, inevitably, when stand-ups rush to market. With so much material now available on YouTube, fewer comics release DVDs nowadays, but some of the best still do. This is theartsdesk's selection of the best live acts caught on film.

Billy Connolly: High Horse

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Tom Allen, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

Tom Allen may have started life in Bromley, a non-descript south London suburb, but there was always a touch of Oscar Wilde about him – whether in his dress sense or his way with words, as we have learned from previous shows. It was obvious to him – and to school bullies – that he was not like them, a gay, bookish, clever boy with a very distinct way of expressing himself.

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The Catherine Tate Show Live, Eventim Apollo

Veronica Lee

Catherine Tate's television sketch shows - apart from a couple of specials devoted to her character Nan Taylor - were last screened in 2007, and she hasn't performed comedy live since her early days at the Edinburgh Fringe. So it was particularly good news for fans when she announced her first live UK tour.

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Susan Calman, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

Susan Calman's latest show has a delightfully silly title – Calman Before the Storm – which neatly doesn't pin her down to any particular theme but instead allows her to riff on a wide range of subjects. It makes for a pleasing hour of feelgood comedy.

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Romesh Ranganathan, Touring

Veronica Lee

Romesh Ranganathan has had an astonishing rise in comedy. The former teacher did his first full-length show at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013, having made his debut there in 2010 in the newcomer competition, So You Think You're Funny? Now he's a television panel-show regular, and the second series of his travelogue Asian Provocateur is currently on the BBC.

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Al Murray, Royal Albert Hall

Veronica Lee

You may have thought that the Brexit vote in June would have been manna from heaven for Al Murray as the Pub Landlord, his knucklehead xenophobe creation. But in this uneven and

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