tue 04/08/2020

Comedy Reviews

Stewart Lee, Mercury Theatre, Colchester

Veronica Lee

It’s a brave comic who declares on stage every night that he would like to see a cute television presenter die in a horrific accident (as nearly happened to Top Gear’s Richard Hammond in 2006). But declares it Stewart Lee does and, for good measure, he also disses a fellow comedian while he’s at it.

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Dylan Moran, Apollo

Veronica Lee

Dylan Moran is, as the ethnic stereotype would have it, a great storyteller. The Irishman doesn’t tell jokes with punchlines as such, rather he rambles on a bit and sort of makes his points along the way. As entertainment, then, his latest show, What It Is, is the sort where one smiles a lot rather than laughs out loud.

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Alistair McGowan, touring

Veronica Lee

Alastair McGowan’s larynx is an amazing thing; it allows him to do 120 voices in 120 minutes during his solo touring show, The One and Many..., which I saw at Journal Tyne Theatre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Not all the impressions are spot-on and there’s an over-reliance on sport-...

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Tim Minchin, Hammersmith Apollo

Jasper Rees

Of course there’ll be no certain way of knowing whether the ensuing rave is heartfelt. Four years ago Tim Minchin, fresh off the plane from Down Under, burst onto the Edinburgh Fringe to be greeted by a short sharp one-star crit from a Guardian reviewer who had possibly got out of the wrong side of the bed. Where a regular stand-up would look horribly petulant to bear such a public grudge, Minchin put his riposte in song, because he has that near-unique facility.

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Modern Family, Sky1 / Question Time, BBC One

Adam Sweeting

American critics have been fanfaring Modern Family as something of a sitcom revolution for its wit, intelligence and the cast's all-round expertise. It might take longer to grow a British fanbase, because you need a few spins around the circuit before its contours start to feel familiar, but then suddenly the lights go on and revelation ensues.

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Grumpy Old Women, Dorking Halls

Veronica Lee

Anyone looking for a novel way into their PhD on how the British like to be entertained would do well to sit in the audience of the live version of Grumpy Old Women, a successful spin-off from the BBC television series where celebby femmes d’un certain age sit and moan about whatever takes their fancy. Students of British social mores will learn that what Brits love more than...

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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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