sat 21/09/2019

Comedy Reviews

Comedy Showcase: Campus, Channel 4

Gerard Gilbert

Green Wing, but set in a university” is one of those useful handles that reviewers were always going to grasp when discussing Victoria Pile’s new improvised ensemble comedy, Campus, the opening try-out in Channel 4’s new Comedy Showcase season of sitcom pilots. For once, the handy nut-shell description is spot on. Campus is precisely that: Green Wing, but set in a university – and as a fan of Green Wing I should feel that that is good...

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Tom Wrigglesworth, Soho Theatre, London

Kat Brown

Firstly, no, Tom Wrigglesworth's Open Return Letter to Richard Branson isn’t that letter. His epistle is not to be confused with Oliver Beale’s, whose email to the Virgin boss complaining about the food on a Virgin flight went viral last year.

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Stephen K Amos, Churchill Theatre, Bromley

Veronica Lee Stephen K Amos: unequalled ability to riff with an audience

Stephen K Amos, although a mightily talented comic, doesn’t make a critic’s job easy. His new show, The Feelgood Factor, does indeed offer that and leaves everybody in the Churchill Theatre in Bromley in a happy mood (and many of them planning to buy him a pint afterwards), but unless I quoted reams of his delivery I couldn’t actually describe what the show is about, other than making people laugh. A lot.

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Stewart Lee, Mercury Theatre, Colchester

Veronica Lee

It’s a brave comic who declares on stage every night that he would like to see a cute television presenter die in a horrific accident (as nearly happened to Top Gear’s Richard Hammond in 2006). But declares it Stewart Lee does and, for good measure, he also disses a fellow comedian while he’s at it.

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Dylan Moran, Apollo

Veronica Lee

Dylan Moran is, as the ethnic stereotype would have it, a great storyteller. The Irishman doesn’t tell jokes with punchlines as such, rather he rambles on a bit and sort of makes his points along the way. As entertainment, then, his latest show, What It Is, is the sort where one smiles a lot rather than laughs out loud.

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Alistair McGowan, touring

Veronica Lee

Alastair McGowan’s larynx is an amazing thing; it allows him to do 120 voices in 120 minutes during his solo touring show, The One and Many..., which I saw at Journal Tyne Theatre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Not all the impressions are spot-on and there’s an over-reliance on sport-...

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Tim Minchin, Hammersmith Apollo

Jasper Rees

Of course there’ll be no certain way of knowing whether the ensuing rave is heartfelt. Four years ago Tim Minchin, fresh off the plane from Down Under, burst onto the Edinburgh Fringe to be greeted by a short sharp one-star crit from a Guardian reviewer who had possibly got out of the wrong side of the bed. Where a regular stand-up would look horribly petulant to bear such a...

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Modern Family, Sky1 / Question Time, BBC One

Adam Sweeting

American critics have been fanfaring Modern Family as something of a sitcom revolution for its wit, intelligence and the cast's all-round expertise. It might take longer to grow a British fanbase, because you need a few spins around the circuit before its contours start to feel familiar, but then suddenly the lights go on and revelation ensues.

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Grumpy Old Women, Dorking Halls

Veronica Lee

Anyone looking for a novel way into their PhD on how the British like to be entertained would do well to sit in the audience of the live version of Grumpy Old Women, a successful spin-off from the BBC television series where celebby femmes d’un certain age sit and moan about whatever takes their fancy. Students of British social mores will learn that what Brits love more than...

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Al Murray, Brighton Dome

Veronica Lee

When Al Murray started doing his Pub Landlord character in the mid-1990s, many (including me) thought it was an invention of comic genius.

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