fri 03/04/2020

Comedy reviews, news & interviews

Lazy Susan, Soho Theatre On Demand review - sketch duo's ingeniously plotted show

Veronica Lee

You may have seen Lazy Susan's excellent BBC pilot last year; now a series has been commissioned from Freya Parker and Celeste Dring so we can look forward to more sketches, surreal interludes and tiptop visual gags – as well as returning characters including Northern lasses Megan and Michaela, tottering on their heels to a night out where they “don't want any drama”.

Michelle Wolf: Joke Show, Netflix review - edgy and original material

Veronica Lee

Michelle Wolf, best known to UK audiences as the comic who upset Donald Trump with some smart barbs aimed at his staff at the 2018 White House Correspondents' Dinner, has done some occasional dates this side of the pond (plus a run at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe), so her fans will be grateful for Joke Show,

Shappi Khorsandi, Soho Theatre On Demand -...

Veronica Lee

Shappi Khorsandi's latest show, Skittish Warrior – Confessions of Club Comic, is an enjoyable look back at the stand-up's 20 years in the comedy...

Roy Hudd: 'I was just trying to make '...

Jasper Rees

Roy Hudd, who has died at the age of 83, was the last link to the age of entertainment before television. Born in 1936, he entered the business just...

Steve Martin and Martin Short, SSE Hydro Glasgow...

Veronica Lee

Steve Martin and Martin Short first met in 1986 on the set of The Three Amigos (in which they co-starred with Chevy Chase), became fast friends and...

Tom Rosenthal, The Hawth, Crawley review - circumcision made funny

Veronica Lee

Knob gags, but with a serious purpose

John Shuttleworth, Leicester Square Theatre review - reflections on life in the slow lane

Veronica Lee

Graham Fellows' alter ego returns

Lucy Porter, Quarterhouse, Folkestone review - confessions of an ex-Brownie

Veronica Lee

Relentlessly upbeat show

Ahir Shah, West End Centre, Aldershot review - a millennial's existential angst

Veronica Lee

Religion, politics - and vaping

Simon Brodkin, The Stables, Milton Keynes review - comics casts off his Lee Nelson character

Veronica Lee

His debut first person show

Alexei Sayle, Oxford Playhouse review - return of the political bruiser

Veronica Lee

A lot to get off his chest after seven years away

Simon Evans, Blackheath Halls review - a big reveal worth waiting for

Veronica Lee

The comic's most personal show yet

Jen Brister, Soho Theatre review - parenting, privilege and porn under scrutiny

Veronica Lee

Domestic anecdotes and political insights

David Baddiel, RST, Stratford-upon-Avon review - taking on the trolls

Veronica Lee

Twitter laid bare

Jayde Adams, Soho Theatre review - witty celebrity takedown

Veronica Lee

Bristolian examines fourth-wave feminism in the Instagram age

Matt Forde, Soho Theatre review - Brexit and beyond

Veronica Lee

Cogent political analysis

Flo & Joan, Soho Theatre review - entertaining wit and whimsy

Veronica Lee

Musical duo say Bros 'inspired' the show

Frank Skinner, Garrick Theatre review - a masterclass in owning the room

Veronica Lee

Pleasing mix of personal and professional anecdotes

Leicester Comedy Festival Gala Preview Show, De Montfort Hall review - mixed bag in mixed bill

Veronica Lee

Ian Stone ends evening on a high note

Best of 2019: Comedy

Veronica Lee

My (mostly) highs and (a few) lows

Adam Kay, Bloomsbury Theatre review - festive tales from the NHS coalface

Veronica Lee

Medic-turned-comic reads from his waspish memoir

Andy Parsons, Stamford Corn Exchange review - politics and the art of persuasion

Veronica Lee

Cheering antidote to Brexit blues

Jack Whitehall, O2 Arena - a mix of posh and puerile

Veronica Lee

Smart lines amid the mundane observations

Ivo Graham: The Game of Life, Soho Theatre review - privilege and parenting

Veronica Lee

New fatherhood runs as a thread through show

Stewart Lee: Tornado/Snowflake, Leicester Square Theatre review - snark to Sharknado

Veronica Lee

Double bill from the king of sarcasm

Jack Dee, Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage review - now he really is a grumpy old man

Veronica Lee

Observational comic has grown into his stage persona

Tim Minchin, Eventim Apollo review - fabulous triumph of rhyme and reason

Jasper Rees

Age has not withered the ginger Ninja comic, but there is an intruiging new tone

Jonathan Pie, Eventim Apollo review - spoof reporter in coruscating form

Veronica Lee

Tom Walker's creation gives a state-of-the-union lecture

Lou Sanders, Soho Theatre review - feminism and dodgy massages

Veronica Lee

'Taskmaster' winner keeps it real

Footnote: a brief history of British comedy

British comedy has a honourable history, dating back to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, through Shakespeare’s and Restoration plays to Victorian and Edwardian music hall and its offspring variety, and on to Monty Python’s Flying Circus, working-men’s clubs, 1980s alternative comedy, and today's hugely popular stand-up acts in stadiums seating up to 20,000 people.

In broadcast media, the immediate decades after the Second World War marked radio’s golden age for comedy, with shows such as ITMA, The Goons, Round the Horne and Beyond Our Ken. Many radio comedy shows transferred to even greater acclaim on television - such as Hancock’s Half Hour, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Knowing Me, Knowing You, The Day Today, Red Dwarf, The League of Gentlemen, Goodness Gracious Me and Little Britain.

In television, the 1970s and 1980s were the great age of British sitcom, when shows such as Steptoe and Son, Till Death Us Do Part, Rising Damp, Dad’s Army, Porridge, Yes, Minister, Only Fools and Horses, Fawlty Towers and Blackadder. They were marked by great writing, acting and directing, although the time should also be noted for great British dross such as On the Buses and Love Thy Neighbour.

By the 1990s, British sitcom had developed into intelligent über-comedy, with shows such as Absolutely Fabulous and The Office making dark or off-kilter (although some would say bad taste) shows such as Drop the Dead Donkey, Peep Show, Green Wing and The Inbetweeners possible. In film, British comedy has had three great ages - silent movies (Charlie Chaplin being their star), Ealing comedies (Passport to Pimlico perhaps the best ever) and Carry On films. The first are in a long tradition of daft physical humour, the second mark the dry sophistication of much British humour, and the last the bawdiness that goes back to Chaucer.

The 2000s marked the resurgence of live comedy, with acts (including Jimmy Carr, Peter Kay and Russell Howard) honing their talents at successive Edinburgh Fringes and their resulting TV, stadium tour and DVD sales making millionaires of dozens of UK comics. Comedians cross readily from TV to stand-up to film to West End comedy theatre. The British comedy industry is now a huge and growing commercial business, with star comics such as Peter Kay and Michael McIntyre grossing tens of millions of pounds from arena tours, and attendances of up to 20,000 at venues across the UK.

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