fri 23/08/2019

Comedy Reviews

The UK Pun Championships, Leicester Comedy Festival

Veronica Lee

The UK Pun Championships have quickly become a fixture of the Leicester Comedy Festival, and this year the organisers installed a boxing ring at De Montfort Hall to underline the event's competitive element.

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Suzi Ruffell, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

Suzi Ruffell tells it straight: she's working-class and proud, but some people might think she's "common", which is the show's title. She has devised a quick quiz for us to check if we're working-class ourselves, and among the amusing tell-tale signs is: did your mum use to freeze milk? A new one on me, but the show is off to a good start.

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Chris Gethard, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

Comedy fans will be familiar with "New York neurotic" – performed mostly by Jewish writers and comics, with Woody Allen being the exemplar. Chris Gethard, however, is from New Jersey, was raised as a Catholic and is not neurotic at all.

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Mr Swallow - Houdini, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

Nick Mohammed doesn't do things by halves as his chatty airhead alter ego Mr Swallow. Forget the scholarly approach of finely researched biographies of Harry Houdini (“boring!”); his “first-ever entirely true auto-biopic” of the magician and escapologist comes complete with conjuring tricks, song-and-dance numbers and a whole lot of laughs.

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The Great Indoors, ITV2

Veronica Lee

The main attraction of this new US sitcom for a UK audience is that two British actors - Stephen Fry and Susannah Fielding – appear in it. The basic premise is that Jack Gordon, a famed reporter, has led a thrilling outdoorsman life, writing about his adventures for the magazine Outdoor Limits.

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Scott Gibson, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

Scott Gibson won best newcomer at last year's Edinburgh Comedy Awards for Life After Death, about the near-fatal brain haemorrhage he had as a 24-year-old in 2009. It happened after the Glaswegian had been to Blackpool for a stag weekend with 11 mates, including the groom “Junkie Steve”. Some rich material for an hour of comedy in there...

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Michelle Wolf, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

American comic Michelle Wolf was nominated for best newcomer at this year's Edinburgh Comedy Awards with this show, So Brave, but she is also a writer on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. She's an acute observer both of human quirks and the American political scene.

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The best comedy DVDs of 2016

Veronica Lee

The period before Christmas is, inevitably, when stand-ups rush to market. With so much material now available on YouTube, fewer comics release DVDs nowadays, but some of the best still do. This is theartsdesk's selection of the best live acts caught on film.

Billy Connolly: High Horse

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Tom Allen, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

Tom Allen may have started life in Bromley, a non-descript south London suburb, but there was always a touch of Oscar Wilde about him – whether in his dress sense or his way with words, as we have learned from previous shows. It was obvious to him – and to school bullies – that he was not like them, a gay, bookish, clever boy with a very distinct way of expressing himself.

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The Catherine Tate Show Live, Eventim Apollo

Veronica Lee

Catherine Tate's television sketch shows - apart from a couple of specials devoted to her character Nan Taylor - were last screened in 2007, and she hasn't performed comedy live since her early days at the Edinburgh Fringe. So it was particularly good news for fans when she announced her first live UK tour.

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