mon 19/08/2019

Comedy Reviews

Punt & Dennis, Touring

Veronica Lee Hugh Dennis and Steve Punt: Funny, but less than the sum of their parts

Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis originally came to fame in the late 1980s as one half of the satirical sketch group The Mary Whitehouse Experience, with fellow Cambridge alumni David Baddiel and Rob Newman. Now, though, most people know them (as a double act, at least) as the lead performers in The Now Show on Radio 4.

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Jackson's Way, Touring

Kate Bassett Will Adamsdale as Chris John Jackson, a manic, self-promoting American life coach

Will Adamsdale was so sweat-drenched by the end of his character-comedy show Jackson's Way – on the night I saw it at the Soho Theatre – that you might think he had just emerged from a frantic triathlon swim. Actually, he is performing a marathon of sorts: the Jacksathon, 26 gigs in as many days in various venues across London.

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Year Out/Year In: Comedy Stands Up to Questions of Taste

Veronica Lee Offensive? Moi? Jimmy Carr, keeping it real in 2010

It was a year when comics at opposite ends of the scale - offensive or annoyingly bland - were taking up room on our television screens and selling out ever-larger arena tours. And the depressing rule of thumb (with a few honourable exceptions) that the blander the comic, the bigger the venue, held true in 2010, so thank goodness there were some terrific shows by talented performers in medium-size theatres. As it happens, the most memorable show I saw all year was in a small venue at the...

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Jason Manford, Hammersmith Apollo

Veronica Lee Jason Manford: The Mancunian comic made some cheeky references to his recent difficulties

In the course of his decade-long career Jason Manford has benefited from the British public’s appetite (eagerly fed by television producers) for inoffensive and family-friendly comics. Similar stand-ups, for instance Michael McIntyre and Peter Kay, have even become millionaires by providing this kind of comedy, and until recently there was no reason to believe that Manford was going to do anything other than follow in their footsteps, particularly after he was made co-host of BBC One’s ...

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Fry and Laurie Reunited, Gold

howard Male

There’s a surreal sitcom waiting to be written about the often-told story of when Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehouse were Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie’s plasterers for a while in the early 1980s.

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Jon Richardson, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee Jon Richardson: A funny man wound up in his neuroses

Jon Richardson’s first full-length show in 2007, Spatula Pad, was about the seemingly unpromising subject of having obsessive compulsive disorder, and being a misanthrope to boot. But it deservedly gained him an If.Comedy Award Best Newcomer nomination, which was followed by another in the main category of the Edinburgh Comedy Awards for last year’s show, This Guy at Night, about how his perfectionism has ruined his relationships.

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Bill Bailey, Wyndham's Theatre

Veronica Lee Bill Bailey: An accomplished musician, and a surreal and subtle comic

By chance, two comics with a penchant for rock‘n’roll have been strutting their stuff at opposite ends of the capital in the same week. First, Bolton funnyman Peter Kay was giving it his all on stage at the O2 on the Greenwich peninsula, and now Bill Bailey begins a two-month-long residency at the Wyndham’s Theatre in the West End. Music buffs both - but in Bailey’s case there are no air guitars as he...

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Peter Kay, O2

Veronica Lee

Only part-way through a mammoth stadium tour that began last April and continues until next autumn (and which he insists will end on 15 October at the MEN Arena in Manchester, where he once worked as an usher), Peter Kay is still having to add dates as they sell out almost the instant they're announced. He’s a phenomenon that even Michael McIntyre and Jimmy Carr - no slouches in stadium-show sales themselves - must be envious of.

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Frankie Boyle, Hammersmith Apollo

Veronica Lee

The last time I saw bouncers standing at the foot of the stage at a comedy venue was at a Roy "Chubby" Brown gig. Back then, I remarked how nicely behaved his fans were, as indeed were Frankie Boyle’s last night; however, another quality the two comics share is that they both score pretty highly on the offensiveness scale.

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Stewart Lee, Leicester Square Theatre

Kate Bassett

Stewart Lee is pretending to be mildly crap. He keeps discussing how he is none too funny, but the point is that his commentary on his own shortcomings thereby turns into a droll running gag. He achieves this with deadpan relish. His delivery is, of course, characteristically sardonic, albeit with an amused glint in the eye. He also frequently stops to spell out how the mechanics of his routine are supposed to be working: po-faced mini-lectures on the art of being hilarious.

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