Leicester Square Theatre, 13/07/11
This Edinburgh warm-up continues where Hoult’s last show left off, straddling the line between character comedy and absurd, dark theatre. Loosely set in an asylum, Hoult plays the part of Thwor, the God of Thwunder (trapped in the body of a man from Garforth), an acid-jazz lover, an old, dotty lady and a dancing dog among others. There are plenty of laughs, mainly utterly silly ones, and there are moments of reflection. Let’s call it melanch-omedy, shall we?
The Black Heart, London, 05/07/11
Tonight, Josie Long’s comedy club should probably be renamed a variety club. Most of the acts aren’t funny in the traditional sense. We get a eulogy to a forgotten pop star, a story, a couple of songs and a re-enactment of the characters from the Sweet Valley High novels. It’s always entertaining but doesn’t reach the highs of previous months. Winners of the night were James Acaster who talks about his (frankly horrible-sounding) mate, a comedian whose name I didn’t catch who is brilliantly funny (although I can’t work out if it was intentional or not) as he explains why his dad is an unsung hero, which mainly involves detailing the things he can fix and David Trent’s simple but effective video-comedy.
Whittington Community Centre, London, 09/06/11
Increasingly looking like a tall Woody Allen, John Hegley is an immensely talented man. His funny little rhymes, silly songs and droll banter are effortlessly delivered; the audience, often invited to accompany him, held in his palm from the get-go. Backed by a friend with brilliant home-made percussion, Hegley mostly plays it for laughs but occasionally delivers a moving tribute (to his departed father, for example), silencing the crowd, before having us in stitches again with a rap about guillemots.
The Black Heart, London, 07/06/11
Josie Long’s monthly night in a room above a pub in Camden features a bunch of upcoming comedians venerating heroes in some way; a concept which most of the acts adhere to somewhat loosely. Long is unprepared, quite awkwardly personal at time but almost always brilliantly funny. She also includes audience-participation games between acts (I won an out of date cake!). Awesome. The comedians vary wildly in style and quality, but somehow, you can’t help but be taken in by the whole ramshackle feel of the night.
Lyric Theatre, London, 28/03/11
Music and comedy. Combined. Not a concept that would ever be likely to thrill me. However, the promise of Alex Horne, Harry Hill and Tim Key on one bill was more than enough temptation. A two-part show with a five-piece band and six acts including a plate spinner and a beatboxer, hosted by the impossible-not-to-love Horne, provided a kind of modern day variety show. Horne and Key both have a way about them that, whilst not always belly-laugh funny, is a joy to watch. Harry Hill was completely absurd, careering around the stage, being as odd as you’d imagine. Some of his jokes were truly awful, but when he makes you laugh, he REALLY makes you laugh. I never thought I’d enjoy a variety show, but tonight I did.
The King’s Head, Crouch End, London, 8th February 2011
Big of voice and big on fun, Nick Helm is the kind of comedian who scares the hell out of people sat in the front row. But in a nice way. Kinda. His comedy is raucous, silly and rattles along at a pace. With songs belted out, audience engagement (unluckily for some) and a hefty dose of shouting, Helm is an energetic, sweaty performer. Even the hardest of hearts would find a tough not to have a good time in his presence.