sat 23/03/2019

Comedy Reviews

Tom Ballard

Veronica Lee

Australian stand-up Tom Ballard was nominated for best newcomer in last year's Edinburgh Comedy Awards for Taxis & Rainbows & Hatred; last month he went one better with The World Keeps Happening, which gained him a nomination for the main award.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2016: Zoë Coombs Marr/ Randy/ Sarah Callaghan

Veronica Lee

Zoë Coombs Marr, Underbelly Cowgate ★★★

Zoë Coombs Marr's debut show last year, Dave, gained a lot of attention, and rightly so. Dave is an old-school male comic whose line in misogyny doesn't sit well in modern comedy – even if his material might find an audience in the wider world.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2016: Richard Gadd/ Kieran Hodgson/ Nazeem Hussain

Veronica Lee

Richard Gadd, The Banshee Labyrinth ★★★★★

Richard Gadd wryly tells us at the end of Monkey See Monkey Do that he thought it was a good idea to put this thought-provoking show, with its deep seam of theatricality and emotion, in the comedy section of the Fringe brochure. And in truth it could sit easily as a theatre show, albeit one with frequent laughs.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2016: Bridget Christie/ Adam Kay/ Rachel Parris

Veronica Lee

Bridget Christie, The Stand ★★★★★

When Bridget Christie planned this show, it was to be a work in progress about mortality for a tour starting later this year. But then the EU referendum happened, and everything changed.

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Whose Line Is It Anyway?, London Palladium

Veronica Lee

At least half the audience for this live version of the short-form improv show, which was shown on Channel 4 between 1989 and 1998, couldn’t possibly have seen Whose Line Is It Anyway? when it was first broadcast, so one assumes they must have become fans via YouTube or rerun channels – testimony to the idea that good comedy is timeless and ageless.

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David Baddiel - My Family: Not the Sitcom, Menier Chocolate Factory

Veronica Lee

David Baddiel's new show, funny though much of it is, raises some interesting ethical questions. Described by the writer and comic as a “massively disrespectful celebration” of his parents' lives, My Family: Not the Sitcom certainly lives up to that, but, considering his mother is dead and his father is suffering from a form of dementia, neither could give their approval for the material used.

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Brighton Festival: Alexei Sayle, Corn Exchange

Nick Hasted

The last time I saw Alexei Sayle was at a benefit gig in Essex in the Eighties, when his rapid torrents of invective and surreal invention was stand-up as great as I’ve seen. Last night’s stage interview about his memoir, Thatcher Stole My Trousers, was reminiscent of those times rather than comparable.

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Julian Clary, Touring

Veronica Lee

Truly, the older Julian Clary gets the filthier he becomes. As he warns us in almost the first line of The Joy of Mincing, which celebrates 30 years in the business, “Are you ready for filth?”

He isn’t mis-selling, and the audience at the Congress Theatre in Eastbourne, where I saw the show, loved every naughty minute of it. The combination of the British seaside and ultra-camp comedy from this “renowned homosexual” was a winning one. 

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Marcus Brigstocke, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

It's striking what a broken heart can do for a comic. Not least it can provide him with some new material, but also make him take a step back to reevaluate what he has. In Marcus Brigstocke's case it led him into a horrible depression but happily, via some other byways, to this new show, Why the Long Face?, which started life at the Edinburgh Fringe last year.

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Jena Friedman, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

“It's a really bad word,” Jena Friedman says as she opens her show, American C*nt. “...American.” And so begins an evening of ultra-dry, drawled-out and darkly feminist wit that encompasses everything from recent atrocities in Belgium and Donald Trump to abortion and Hamas.

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