tue 22/06/2021

Reclaim These Streets fundraiser, 21Soho review - entertaining mixed bill hosted by Sarah Keyworth | reviews, news & interviews

Reclaim These Streets fundraiser, 21Soho review - entertaining mixed bill hosted by Sarah Keyworth

Reclaim These Streets fundraiser, 21Soho review - entertaining mixed bill hosted by Sarah Keyworth

Comedy clubs reopen

Sarah Keyworth was the host for the evening and cheerfully interrogated the audience

London's weather – a day of huge downpours – underlined the point that we should be rushing inside as entertainment venues (in parts of the UK, at least) reopened. It was lovely to be back at 21Soho, a welcoming and well run venue, particularly as its opening night was for anti-violence charity Reclaim These Streets. Proceeds will be distributed by the charity Rosa.

Sarah Keyworth was on terrific form as the host, grateful to be finally working to a crowd who appeared in real-life form rather than on the other side of a Zoom screen. Although, as she wrily pointed out, even on Zoom there can be heckles – such as the time an audible sigh greeted one of her gags.

She covered a lot of territory – including a lockdown split from her girlfriend, female masturbation and the perils of giving a urine sample – in between quizzing the audience.

The crowd were, perhaps understandably, a little reticent at first about joining in, but Keyworth cheerfully prised out their stories, including from a group of friends in the front row – although it was Olga Koch, opening the second half, who unearthed the biggest nugget from them about two of the pals who or may not have been a couple.

Koch, a comic who proves herself a more assured performer every time I see her, went off script to dig for more amusement (and got it) but then returned to a terrific story involving an audition for a part in a film that she fears she would have been hopelessly miscast in had she landed the role.

It was a packed evening, with several performers doing sets of varying length, and with pleasingly varying comedic modes. Relative newcomer Bella Hull, an alumna of Cambridge Footlights who has a disarmingly cheeky style, is someone I look forward to seeing more of, while established Irish comic Joanne McNally is always a very welcome presence on stage.

New Zealander Alice Brine provided another highlight as she relayed an excellent way to get back at a boyfriend who dumped her (but you may need a pal who's a vet to make it work and to not be too bothered about technicalities of the law), while two Americans now based in London – Kemah Bob and Janine Harouni – mused on transatlantic differences, whether relating to the UK's weird insurance adverts or British tastes in pop music.

The energy in the room, which rarely dipped, was proof that the comics were glad to be back – and the audience was really happy to be there.

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