mon 06/07/2020

Comedy Reviews

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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Hans Teeuwen, Soho Theatre

Jasper Rees Hans Teeuwen offers a disjointed joy ride round his warped subconscious

“You pay money I be funny?” There are times in stand-up when it seems the wrong kind of transaction has taken place. A comedian brings a warped vision of the world to a paying public. He – and the weirder ones are always a he – parade neurosis, dysfunction and fixation that, in the normal scheme of things, they really ought to be working through every week with a psychotherapeutic professional at whatever the hourly rate over however many years. But if you fixed the warp, you’d kill the...

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American: The Bill Hicks Story

Veronica Lee Bill Hicks: his dark, subversive material was before its time

If I had a fiver for every time I have heard a comic described (usually by the comic himself) as “the new Bill Hicks”, I would be rather comfortably off. It’s tosh, of course, and, as his brother astutely says in American: The Bill Hicks Story, only Bill Hicks could be Bill Hicks, because what you saw on the outside was what was on the inside. Hicks himself is in no position to argue either way: he died, aged 32, from pancreatic cancer in 1994. Those who die at the height of their...

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Katy Brand, touring

Veronica Lee Katy Brand: her sketch comedy baits celebrities and spoofs pop music

The first time I saw Katy Brand was at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2005, where she was performing Celebrities Are Gods in a tiny, windowless basement late at night. Hers was the last show in the room, which by now was a fetid sweatbox, and only a few hardy souls had turned up. But it was a memorable evening, not only because Brand’s talent was plain to see, but also because, undaunted by the circs, she performed with the confidence of an old pro even though she was only 26.

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