mon 10/08/2020

Dom Joly / Daniel Sloss, Brent Cross reviews - UK's first drive-in comedy shows | reviews, news & interviews

Dom Joly / Daniel Sloss, Brent Cross reviews - UK's first drive-in comedy shows

Dom Joly / Daniel Sloss, Brent Cross reviews - UK's first drive-in comedy shows

The Drive-In Club makes a little bit of history

Daniel Sloss brought some much-needed energy to the eventPhotographs by Steve Ullathorne

It was a weary and frustrated Dom Joly (★★) who left the stage after performing the first drive-in comedy show in the UK. Sadly it had been, as he said earlier, “the first car crash at a drive-in”.

In the inauspicious surroundings of the car park at Brent Cross shopping centre, we were entering the new world of live comedy – where closely packed small rooms above pubs and even socially distanced arenas are verboten for the foreseeable future – but this momentous event had turned into a technical nightmare for the Trigger Happy TV star.

His show, Holiday Snaps: Travel and Comedy in the Danger Zone, was essentially a PowerPoint presentation of places he had visited. Standing at a lectern, Joly introduced pictures and video clips with acerbic comments about Dildo in Canada and Wank in Germany, where the locals didn’t get his puerile humour, and visiting his old school in Lebanon, where he was disappointed to learn he wasn’t its most famous alumnus. That accolade goes to Osama Bin Laden.

Although there was no problem with the audience hearing him through their car radios, first Joly lost the accompanying music for his set and then his pictures failed to load. He left the stage for 15 minutes while someone switched something off and on again.

Dom JolyTo add to his woes Joly (pictured right) was battling not just recalcitrant technology, but had to contend with a wind that was whipping up and rain that got steadily heavier throughout his set. By the end of the hour he was shouting, and we were flagging. Images of audiences in convertibles on sunkissed summer evenings in American teen movies were far from our minds.

At the later show, Daniel Sloss (★★★), with strong support from Kai Humphries, fared much better, as his set was pure stand-up (or rather sit-down, as he took to an easy chair for most of it) and didn’t depend on anything more technically sophisticated than a microphone. And despite his laidback presentation, he brought real energy to the event.

Sloss likes to push people's buttons with talk about sex and drugs and living the high life as a comic, but he's too decent (and too self-aware) to entirely pull off that living-on-the-edge vibe – as evidence by his opening line, which was at once surly and poignant.

“If my agent had offered me this gig in January she would have been sacked,” he said as the wind and rain continued, but then explained he would now have done it for free because he has missed live comedy so much. The crowd – there for the experience as much as the jokes – showed their appreciation by tooting their car horns and flashing their headlights in lieu of applause. We were all grateful to be here.

Joly may have bragging rights for doing the UK’s first drive-in comedy gig – surely a pub quiz question in years to come – but Sloss better judged the kind of material to perform. And when culture fans are desperate to watch live performances again we should applaud those creatives and promoters who are trying, unlike the UK government, to keep the arts alive.

Joly was battling not just recalcitrant technology, but had to contend with a wind that was whipping up

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