thu 23/01/2020

Comedy Reviews

Al Murray, Brighton Dome

Veronica Lee

When Al Murray started doing his Pub Landlord character in the mid-1990s, many (including me) thought it was an invention of comic genius.

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The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Vaudeville

Veronica Lee

It’s a big ask for any performer to take on a role that was written specially for another actor, but Diana Vickers’ supporters from her appearances in last year’s X Factor on ITV will be pleased to learn that she acquits herself very well indeed. She is Little Voice in Terry Johnson’s pleasing revival of Jim Cartwright’s The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, which began life in the National’s Cottesloe Theatre in 1992 with Jane Horrocks in the title role.

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Comedians, Lyric Hammersmith

aleks Sierz

What are the politics of comedy? The great thing about Trevor Griffiths's 1975 classic, Comedians, which opened last night in a solid revival directed by Sean Holmes, is that this subject is debated with grace as well as humour. As six apprentice comedians attend a night class run by the veteran stand-up Eddie Waters, they find that their hunger for stardom clashes with his desire to use comedy to make a difference, to change society.

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Frank Skinner's Credit Crunch Cabaret, Lyric Theatre

Jasper Rees

The watertight theory behind the Credit Crunch Cabaret is that we all need cheering up, above all on Monday nights. Frank Skinner compered 10 of these start-the-week-for-a-tenner variety nights earlier in the year. He returned last night for another 10-Monday stint. Variety was still on the agenda: it’s never not going to be the case that in a bill with four acts, some are going to be funnier than others. Much funnier.

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Simon Amstell, touring

Veronica Lee

“Let’s start with ‘I’m so lonely’,” says Simon Amstell at the top of his show, Do Nothing. As an opening line for most comedy evenings, that would be about as enticing as the oyster special at the Slurry Pond Inn but thankfully the ex-host of BBC’s Never Mind the Buzzcocks serves up an evening as witty as it is intellectually nutritious.

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Michael McIntyre, Wembley Arena

Jasper Rees

“Got a mortgage.” Thus spake Michael McIntyre last night. It’s an article of faith for McIntyre - an all but unique selling point - that he is one of us. He wears a suit to work and doesn’t think about al-Qaeda that much. How many other comedians do you come across who remind you even vaguely of you? Where most stand-ups are weird or ugly or angry or hairy or epically rude (or all of the above), McIntyre is groundbreakingly normal, boy-next-door bourgeois. The jokes are all about the things all...

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Andy Parsons, touring

Veronica Lee

For my money, Andy Parsons is by some distance the best panellist on BBC2’s Mock the Week - not that you would know it from the editing, which appears to be in thrall to that shouty Scottish bloke. Parsons is quick, witty, clever and has a command of current affairs that only MTW host Dara O Briain can match. What...

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Julian Clary, touring

Veronica Lee

“He’s a naughty lad, isn’t he?” said an elderly lady to her husband as they left Julian Clary’s show, Lord of the Mince, which had numerous references to gay sexual practices. The remark wasn’t made in anger, mind, but with a smile on both their faces - and that’s a clue as to why Clary gets away with some unbelievably smutty material. As with many a camp gay comic, from Frankie Howerd and Larry Grayson to, more recently, Graham Norton and Paul O’Grady, the British public just love...

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Rich Hall, Hammersmith Apollo

Jasper Rees

The departure from the Oval Office of George W Bush was a catalyst for much street festivity over the water, for inappropriate hugging of strangers and random multi-ethnic high-fiving. Of course whole tranches of the all-American demographic were somehow able to contain their excitement at the coming of Obama – among them oil profiteers, health insurers, people whose recreation includes shooting other people in the head. But none mourn Dubya like American comedians.

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Kinky Friedman, The Komedia, Brighton

Thomas H Green

With his latest campaign to become Governor of Texas just kicking into gear, Kinky Friedman should probably be at home in the US, rather than on the south coast of Britain. The man himself says that he's been "sent out of state so I wouldn't screw up". In 2006 he took 13 per cent of the vote as an independent candidate but next year he has the backing of the Democratic Party so it's more than just the eccentric whim of a Jewish country singer.

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