sun 08/12/2019

Comedy Reviews

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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The Boy With Tape On His Face, Touring

ismene Brown

The mistake was probably that I hadn’t tanked up beforehand. Clues were there. Soho Theatre is over a pub. 9.45pm start. Who’s going to turn up in those circumstances completely sober? Who would be mad enough to turn up in Soho at 9.45pm stone-cold sober? And a four-star Edinburgh Fringe show had not necessarily been assessed by altogether un-punchdrunk viewers, lurching as they do (and I have done) between five shows a night.

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Greg Davies, Bloomsbury Theatre

Jasper Rees

Greg Davies is a comedian who laughs along to his own material. A conspiratorial look glints in his eye, a hint of fruity mischief plays on his lips. The adage that you should never be amused by your own punchlines is, of course, a tall tower of rubbish – different jokes for different blokes – but Davies’s enjoyment of his own routine begs a couple of questions. Is it as funny as he thinks it is? Or is it funny because he thinks it is?

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Lee Nelson, touring

Jasper Rees

There’s just the one joke with Lee Nelson. When I caught a short slice of him earlier this year the joke more than filled the available slot. Nelson has since been granted his own show on BBC Three. Now that he’s out on tour, the question arises of how much celebration of chavs, benefit cheats, petty tea-leaves and other totally amoral representatives of Broken Britain you can stomach before the grin starts to get a little fixed.

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Adam Hills, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee Your comic needs you: Adam Hills's new show is based on his audience's stories

It’s an interesting concept that Adam Hills has come up with for his latest show, Mess Around. The ever-smiling and hugely likeable Australian - a longtime sellout hit at the Edinburgh Fringe but who has yet to make a broader breakthrough like his peers - is a past master of audience interaction, so why not ditch the material and make that the show?

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Russell Kane, Touring

Veronica Lee Russell Kane: Comedy about being the book-reading son of a racist homophobe

Russell Kane, a thoroughly deserving nominee, was the surprise winner of the Edinburgh Comedy Award (ECA) - the bookies’ money was on young American Bo Burnham - with a show that explores his troubled...

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Ross Noble, Edinburgh Playhouse

graeme Thomson Ross Noble: 'A confused man being poked with a stick'

Call a comic surreal and you hand him or her a licence to be as self-indulgent as they desire. Think of Vic Reeves, who long ago started believing that the mere proximity to one another of words like "bacon", "kazoo" and "Manama" was sufficiently hilarious to bring down the house. Ross Noble is, we are frequently told, a surreal comedian. His new show certainly contains enough references to "...

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Celebrity Autobiography, Leicester Square Theatre

Veronica Lee

Celebrity Autobiography, like most of the world’s best ideas, is simple yet inspired. Eugene Pack’s creation, developed with Dayle Reyfel, was first seen in Los Angeles three years ago, then in New York and other American cities, and was a sellout hit at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Both creators, along with a bunch of actors and comics, appeared last night to read from various celebrities’ autobiographies. That’s all it is, folks.

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Alun Cochrane, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee Alun Cochrane: A thoroughly amiable comic who talks about life and that

It will come as no surprise that a critic should instantly become a fan of a comic whose debut show at the Edinburgh Fringe (for which Alun Cochrane received a Perrier Award nomination) was a show titled My Favourite Words in My Best Stories. Anyone who loves words is a hit with me - we’re ploughing the same furrow after all, just in different ways.

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Jason Byrne, Leicester Square Theatre

Veronica Lee

It takes a very talented comic indeed to warm the main room at the Leicester Square Theatre, a venue that is situated beneath a Catholic church and which, vampire-like, can suck the life out of even the most buoyant of audiences. Fortunately, Jason Byrne has enough energy to wake the dead or, in this case, a few hundred damp souls who have come in from a rainy London town outside.

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