sun 15/09/2019

Comedy reviews, news & interviews

Sofie Hagen, Soho Theatre review - sex weekend in Swansea, anyone?

Veronica Lee

Memory is a funny thing: it can get you through exams; it can comfort you or distress you; it can last a lifetime or go in an instant. In Sofie Hagen's case, her idiosyncratic one has provided material for her new show Bumswing, which started life at the Edinburgh Fringe and is now at Soho Theatre.

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Jordan Brookes/ Catherine Cohen

Veronica Lee

Jordan Brookes Pleasance Courtyard ★★★★Jordan Brookes doesn’t tell gags. Well, he does but not in a traditional stand-up way. Rather, his jokes are subtly inserted into I’ve Got Nothing’s seemingly disjointed narrative.

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Alun Cochrane/...

Veronica Lee

Alun Cochrane Pleasance Courtyard ★★★★Alun Cochrane is going to treat us like adults, he says by way of introduction, by giving us his take on...

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 review: Arabella Weir -...

David Kettle

If nothing else, Arabella Weir quips, she can thank her mother for providing the material for her first Fringe show. For Does My Mum Loom Big In This...

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Catherine Bohart...

Veronica Lee

Catherine Bohart Pleasance Courtyard ★★★★Catherine Bohart has a most unusual starting point for her new show, Lemon. Last year at the Fringe, a...

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Phil Wang/ London Hughes/ Jack Gleadow/ Mr. Thing

Veronica Lee

More from the world's biggest and best arts festival

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Joanne McNally/ The Crown Dual/ Maisie Adam/ James McNicholas/ Titania McGrath

Veronica Lee

More from the world's biggest and best arts festival

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Clive Anderson / Goodbear

Veronica Lee

More from the world's biggest and best arts festival

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Nick Helm/ Just These Please/ Anna Drezen

Veronica Lee

More from the world's biggest and best arts festival

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Josie Long / Snort / Sara Barron

Veronica Lee

More from the world's biggest and best arts festival

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Ciaran Dowd/ Tom Parry/ Suzi Ruffell, Pleasance Courtyard

Veronica Lee

The world's biggest and best arts festival begins

Robin Ince, Soho Theatre review - fun among the chaos

Veronica Lee

Celebration of the complexities of the human mind

Jerry Seinfeld, Eventim Apollo review - slick and smart but curiously soulless

Veronica Lee

US star makes rare UK appearance

Arthur Smith, Soho Theatre review - charming tribute to his father

Veronica Lee

Nostalgia, songs and old jokes

Frank Skinner, Leicester Square Theatre - mixing some acid with the charm

Veronica Lee

Preamble to autumn tour works a treat

Emily Atack, Clapham Grand review - I'm a Celebrity... star's first solo show

Veronica Lee

Likeable but light on laughs

Al Murray as the Pub Landlord, Embassy Theatre Skegness review - comic pulls his punches

Veronica Lee

Ageing character has little new to say on Brexit

Ruby Wax, Brighton Festival 2019 review - how to be human

Katie Colombus

An evening of laughs alongside real lessons in mindfulness and neurology

Andy Hamilton, Brighton Festival 2019 review - gently amusing night of reminiscence

Thomas H Green

Comedy writing perennial spends an evening answering audience questions

Seann Walsh, Broadway, Letchworth Garden City review - Strictly's bad boy tells his story

Veronica Lee

Ramifications of being caught in a tabloid storm

Win a Luxury Weekend for Two to Celebrate Brighton Festival!


An eclectic line-up spanning music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, comedy, literature and spoken word could be yours with boutique hotel and exquisite meals included

Reginald D Hunter, Princes Hall Aldershot review - underpowered but the laughs come through

Veronica Lee

Controversialist in laid back-mood

Krater Comedy Club, Brighton Komedia 25th Birthday review - a south coast institution celebrates

Thomas H Green

A boisterous evening featuring comedians Dave Fulton, Tiff Stevenson and Glenn Wool

Mark Thomas, BAC review - impassioned polemic about the NHS

Veronica Lee

A love letter with a warning

Britney, Soho Theatre review - finding the funny in a brain tumour

Veronica Lee

Duo tell a true story with invention and verve

Tommy Tiernan, Shepherd's Bush Empire review - playful and poetic

Veronica Lee

Star of Derry Girls on sex, religion and politics

Angela Barnes, Blackheath Halls review - a pessimist turning the tables

Veronica Lee

From the personal to the political in gag-filled show

Aziz Ansari, Eventim Apollo review - show follows his #MeToo moment

Veronica Lee

US comic tackles race, politics and relationships

Mo Amer and Guz Khan, Leicester Square Theatre review - racism examined from both sides of the Atlantic

Veronica Lee

Energetic double bill feels like a hip-hop gig

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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