fri 23/03/2018

Comedy reviews, news & interviews

Simon Evans, Soho Theatre review - intellect examined

Veronica Lee

Simon Evans, at 52, is far too young to be a grumpy old man, but he’s doing his best to prepare for the role, with this amusingly dyspeptic standup show at Soho Theatre about the ageing process, and how the evolutionary model appears to be moving backwards.

Craig Hill, Glasgow International Comedy Festival review - sweary and filthy fun

Veronica Lee

The Glasgow International Comedy Festival kicked off with a performance by one of its most popular performers, Craig Hill, a comic far better known in his native Scotland than south of the border. That may be because his shtick relies so much on knowing the ins and outs of Scottish social classification – anyone from Fife, Paisley or Aberdeen was fair game for insults here, but non-Scots may be none the wiser.

Fern Brady, Soho Theatre review - opinions with...

Veronica Lee

Fern Brady is a young Scot with plenty of provocative opinions – on politics, society and relationships – with a delivery that can only be described...

Rose Matafeo, Soho Theatre review - sassy and she...

Veronica Lee

New Zealand comic Rose Matafeo is a fan of romcoms and has decided she is destined to appear in one at some point in her career. As she explains, it'...

Hannah Gadsby, Soho Theatre review - misogyny...

Veronica Lee

Hannah Gadsby was awarded best show (jointly with John Robins) at the 2017 Edinburgh Comedy Awards for Nanette, which had already been given the...

Andrew Maxwell, Soho Theatre - insightful political comedy

Veronica Lee

Brexit and beyond

Chris Rock, SSE Wembley Arena review - energetic and fast-moving performance

Veronica Lee

Controversial US comic on rare UK tour

Leicester Comedy Festival Gala Preview Show - going from strength to strength

Veronica Lee

The event's 25th incarnation

Best of 2017: Comedy

Veronica Lee

The shows that have stayed with me

Margaret Cho, Hen & Chickens Bristol review - sex and drugs, no holds barred

Veronica Lee

US comic tells it like it is

The Elvis Dead, Soho Theatre review - schlock horror told through Elvis songs

Veronica Lee

Excellent spoof tells the story of Evil Dead 2 through the oeuvre of the King

Natalie Palamides, Soho Theatre review - delightful and disturbing show about motherhood

Veronica Lee

Playful and knowing character lays an egg every day

John Bishop, O2 review - Everyman comedy with a hint of subversion

Veronica Lee

From Bono to Brexit and back again

Kerry Godliman, Touring review - affable and down-to-earth humour

Veronica Lee

A canny look at social mobility

Mat Ewins, Soho Theatre review - multimedia show with twists in the tale

Veronica Lee

Not just an entertaining Indiana Jones spoof

Ahir Shah, Soho Theatre - a bravura response to Brexit vote

Veronica Lee

Angry, passionate and political

Mae Martin, Soho Theatre review - life is a drug

Veronica Lee

Dry storytelling about an obsessional life

Edinburgh Festival and Fringe 2017 reviews round-up


theartsdesk recommends the shows to catch this August

Edinburgh Fringe 2017 reviews: Ingrid Oliver / Darren Harriott / Jayde Adams

Veronica Lee

An excellent mimic, a strong debut, and a dynamic entertainer

Edinburgh Fringe 2017 reviews: Hannah Gadsby / Suzi Ruffell / Ivo Graham / Athena Kugblenu

Veronica Lee

A possible valediction, class concerns, feeling the privilege, and millennial politics

Edinburgh Fringe 2017 reviews: Tom Allen / Cally Beaton / Lauren Pattison / Trumpageddon

Veronica Lee

A happy anniversary, neural pathways, an assured debut, and a deflated Trump

Edinburgh Fringe 2017 reviews: Kiri Pritchard-McLean / Dad's Army Radio Hour / Elliot Steel

Veronica Lee

Unlikely subject matter for gags, an old favourite revived, and one for the millennials

Edinburgh Fringe 2017 reviews: Tiff Stevenson / Jarlath Regan / Urzila Carlson

Veronica Lee

The politics of beauty, the comedy of organ donation and big laughs from the southern hemisphere

Enter theartsdesk's Young Reviewer of the Year Award


In association with The Hospital Club's h.Club 100 Awards, we're launching a new competition to find a brilliant young critic

Russell Brand, Touring review - grandiloquent performer in reflective mood

Veronica Lee

Fatherhood prompts a look back at earlier misdemeanours

Jeremy Hardy, Brighton Festival review - expert raconteur shows political bite

Thomas H Green

Radio 4 regular's conversational style masks a passionate pin-sharp topicality

Ricky Gervais, Touring review - chatty and relaxed riffing

Veronica Lee

Some very personal material among the edgy content

Ayesha Hazarika, Soho Theatre review - 'politics is her patch'

Veronica Lee

Former Labour adviser finds the funny in politics

Our Friend Victoria review – ‘Victoria Wood’s genius is irreplaceable’

Jasper Rees

Julie Walters presents the first part of BBC One's series celebrating a comedian without equal

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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