tue 12/11/2019

Comedy Reviews

Ricky Gervais, Wembley Arena

Jasper Rees

Do look away now if you’re squeamish. Why? Because before the star turn has even made his entrance, a film is shown on the screen suspended above the stage. An earnest American advises that there is a global shortage. Jumbo jets have been spraying deliveries from the skies. Donations are coming in, but billions of gallons are simply not enough. He is drinking more than the world can supply. But what can this precious nectar possibly be?

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La La Land, BBC Three

graeme Thomson

“Marc Wootton is playing characters in real situations with real people” read the message that followed the opening credits of La La Land, as though Wootton were a comedic Archimedes unveiling his Eureka moment, rather than simply the latest “provocative” British wit to go panning for comedy gold in the murky waters of American embarrassment.

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Shappi Khorsandi, touring

Veronica Lee Shappi Khorsandi: the ever-smiling comic has some dark punchlines

It’s not a good thing to be at a comedy gig fit to punch the wall, but I must confess I entered the auditorium for Shappi Khorsandi’s show last night in a less than Zen state. Not that I had arrived up for it, mind; I may be a sarf London girl but prefer to conduct myself as if I am a true-born daughter of the Home Counties. I had arrived in good time, full of the joys of spring, looking forward to a well-earned first-of-the-day libation before I took my seat for a show I was looking forward to...

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Ken Dodd, Richmond Theatre

Veronica Lee Ken Dodd: at 82, the brilliant comic is celebrating 55 years in show business

This is the first gig I have attended where a sign at the door states: “First act - long. Second act - even longer”. So we have been warned, and as soon as Ken Dodd takes to the stage he refers to his (by now) legendary ultra-lengthy shows. “This evening will be a test of bladder strength,” he tells us, and proceeds to entertain almost non-stop for the next four hours (he has been known to do five or six).

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Sean Lock, touring

Veronica Lee Sean Lock: he has the inspired idea of audience Battleships in his show Lockipedia

Sean Lock, as well as being an acclaimed stand-up for many years, has also written for other comics, including Bill Bailey, Lee Evans and Mark Lamarr, and his profile has risen hugely through his stints as team captain on 8 Out of 10 Cats on Channel 4 and regular guest appearances on other panel shows, including QI and Mock the Week. His fans, including me, recall with fondness his sitcom 15 Storeys High, which ran for two series on BBC TV (and which was...

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Dara O Briain, touring

Veronica Lee

What a joy to welcome Dara O Briain back into the stand-up fold. The Irishman has been away from live performance for five years because he has been busy hosting the panel show Mock the Week and mucking about in boats on various Three Men... series, both on the BBC, and writing a travelogue, Tickling the English, which is about to be released in paperback. His hunger to interact with an audience is almost palpable as he strides to the front of the stage.

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Phil Nichol, Soho Theatre

Jasper Rees 'Don't spoil it with applause!': Phil Nichol as manic beat preacher Bobby Spade

How far is too far? That’s the question which underlies the nihilistic versifying of Bobby Spade, white-suited barfly bard, the laureate of oedipal self-loathing who swims in a miasma of misogyny. Spade is the deeply strange, deeply funny creation of Phil Nichol. In this show the no doubt decent Nichol doesn’t get a look in. Where Rich Hall brings on his alter-ego Otis Lee Crenshaw in...

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Dave Gorman, Hammersmith Apollo

Veronica Lee

Dave Gorman, it could be said, invented a genre of comedy. His reality-based documentary tales - about hunting down people with the same name or finding unique Google searches - were meticulously researched and generously illustrated; he was the king of PowerPoint. But here he has returned to his stand-up roots and while the show has a title - Sit Down, Pedal, Pedal, Stop and Stand Up- it has no central theme and is not, like those before, delivered almost as a lecture.

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Chris Addison, Bloomsbury Theatre

Veronica Lee

Keen comedy fans could never understand why Chris Addison, now 38 and marking 15 years in the business, didn’t have the breakthrough to national fame he deserved sooner. His quick, sometimes caustic but always intelligent humour played to sold-out venues at the Edinburgh Fringe each year, critics heaped praise on him and he received three prestigious Perrier award nominations.

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Rhod Gilbert, De Montfort Hall, Leicester

Veronica Lee Rhod Gilbert: contrarian even down to the invention of his latest show's title

Rhod GIlbert is, I suppose, what one would call a contrarian. Much that he comes up against in life appears to confound him and, perhaps as a consequence, a lot of things seem to go wrong (often at the same time), which causes him yet more rilement. Even the title of this show, Rhod Gilbert & The Cat That Looked Like Nicholas Lyndhurst, which I saw at the Leicester Comedy Festival, is in response to an annoying fan who brings the comic gifts of things that have been mentioned in...

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