tue 15/10/2019

Comedy Reviews

Better Off Ted, FX

Adam Sweeting Ted (Jay Harrington) and Veronica (Portia De Rossi) locked in a power-meeting at Veridian Dynamics

And first the bad news. The ABC network in the States has already declared Better Off Ted dead, after a paltry two seasons. Which is a pity, since acerbic, mildly surreal satires about the workings of corporate America don’t come along very often.

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Would I Lie to You? BBC One

howard Male The crew of the Starship Deception about to lie as no one has lied before

The fact that we humans are, technically speaking, bad liars proves that we are instinctively moral creatures (rather than getting our morals from our god or our parents) and that lying is therefore, evolutionarily speaking, probably a bad idea. You can get away with saying you were caught in traffic, rather than admitting you were in the pub, but a polygraph will pick up on changes in blood pressure, pulse and respiration - those indicators of anxiety you’d rather not be feeling - and your...

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Latitude Festival, Suffolk

David Cheal Latitude: Blue skies and a cornucopia of culture

So little time, so much stuff to see: that, in essence, is the story of Latitude. Now in its fifth year, this Suffolk festival offers a bewildering cultural cornucopia: music, theatre, dance, cabaret, comedy, circus, literature, poetry, as well as unexpected oddities such as performers dressed as unicorns wandering the woods at night and teams of ghoulish “medics” defibrillating random victims (I was one of them) during theatre group Duckie’s Saturday night masked ball. It’s a blast (albeit...

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Pete and Dud: The Lost Sketches, BBC Two/ British Grand Prix, BBC One

Adam Sweeting Wossy and his mirthsome pals celebrate Cook and Moore, with the great Clifford Slapper at the piano

Great comedy may be timeless, but that's probably because of the great comedians performing it as much as the material itself. Could you imagine Dad's Army being anything more than a shadow of its former self if it was remade with a new cast? Would Frasier achieve the same transcendent mix of bourgeois self-regard and millisecond farcical timing with James Corden and Mathew Horne in place of  Kelsey Grammer and...

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Rich Fulcher: An Evening with Eleanor, the Tour Whore, Udderbelly, SE1

Kate Bassett

Fans of The Mighty Boosh may just about recognise Eleanor. The American character comic Rich Fulcher is best known – from that surreal television sitcom – for playing Bob Fossil, the insanely incompetent zoo manager who bemuses Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding with fits of wanton disco-dancing. However, Fulcher has squeezed himself into a frock for his current spate of live solo gigs, obviously being keen to raise the profile of his drag alter ego (who has also popped up on MTV).

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Gina Yashere, Udderbelly, SE1

Veronica Lee Gina Yashere: the Londoner of Nigerian origin can make even casual racism funny

In the game of musical chairs that has led up to their coverage of the soccer World Cup, BBC and ITV executives appear to have missed a trick; judging by last night’s explosive opening few minutes, in which Gina Yashere gave an expletive-laden analysis of England’s opening draw against the United States, the comic would be a whole lot more entertaining as a pundit than some of the mealy-mouthed ex-professionals they currently employ to tell us where it all went wrong.

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Pop-Up Poetry, Udderbelly

Veronica Lee

Performance poetry, I am told, is the new rock ’n’ roll. Poetry nights may vie with comedy at venues up and down the country, and a new generation of twentysomething urban poets and rappers are certainly strutting their stuff, but I’m yet to be convinced that it’s the burgeoning success that promoters would have us believe. Still, the first of two Pop-Up Poetry evenings of “poetry stand-up style” in the upturned purple cow on London’s South Bank gave me a chance to sample some of...

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Pajama Men, Soho Theatre

Kate Bassett 'Pajama Men': Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen create a rich fantasia dressed in their jimjams

We must be on the night train, as there's something crazily dreamlike about the Pajama Men's mercurial railroad fantasy, The Last Stand to Reason, which was a runaway Edinburgh Fringe hit last year and is now, deservedly, back at Soho by popular demand.

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Idiots of Ants, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee Idiots of Ants: (left to right) Spiers, Wrighton, Wilson and Tiney

The art of good sketch comedy is in the timing - not just in how gags are delivered, of course, but in realising that some jokes are best done as one-liners while others can be played out over several minutes before being punctuated with a killer punchline. The four-man sketch group Idiots of Ants are masters of knowing when to end one sketch and get on with another - and that, allied with smart writing and committed performances, makes them leaders in the field.

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Andy Hamilton, Blackheath Halls

Veronica Lee Andy Hamilton: watching his show feels like being down the pub with a witty and erudite mate

Most people know Andy Hamilton from his frequent (and very droll) appearances on panel shows such as Have I Got News For You and The News Quiz on television and radio, but he is also a prolific writer. His writing credits could take up the whole of this review, but a brief CV includes Not the Nine O’Clock News, Drop the Dead Donkey, Old Harry’s Game and, most recently, the equally excellent Outnumbered on BBC One, which he co-writes with Guy...

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