fri 23/07/2021

Leicester Comedy Festival Gala Preview Show, De Montfort Hall review - mixed bag in mixed bill | reviews, news & interviews

Leicester Comedy Festival Gala Preview Show, De Montfort Hall review - mixed bag in mixed bill

Leicester Comedy Festival Gala Preview Show, De Montfort Hall review - mixed bag in mixed bill

Ian Stone ends evening on a high note

Charlie Baker was the very likeable host of the gala preview show

A mixed bill rarely pleases all comedy tastes – whether in style or content – and so it proved at the launch of the Leicester Comedy Festival, which starts next month. In a line-up of eight comics that had few star names, the best came last – but more of that later.

The gala was presented by the hugely likeable Charlie Baker, a Devonian who gets great mileage from his home county, approaching middle age, being married for nearly 20 years and liking his food too much. And while there was a lot of cheeky interaction with the front row along those lines, he was always the butt of the joke; describing how he popped into a petrol station for a snack on the way home, he was asked if he wanted a receipt. “Collect evidence? No thanks.”

Among the other highlights was Daniel Soff, winner of the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year competition at the festival last year – despite appearing nervous and not on his best form, swallowing his words and at one point forgetting the punchline to a gag. But he has real stage presence and offers an original take on being black-British, introducing the audience to the concept of being asked where he is from – London – when actually the subtly racist question could more accurately be described, he says, as “where are you from from?” He's one to watch.

Scott Bennett brought the first half to a close with his pithy observational humour in a set mostly about his young daughters and how he has trained the older one to lie about her age so she can still get into places for free, but worries she's becoming a little too adept at it. He's the only dad at his younger child's play group, and is defending his territory there as an honorary woman – “I've got a smear test next week” – to any other fathers who want to join. I could have happily listened to a much longer set by this affable Yorkshireman.

Jarlath Regan did some bang-up-to-the-minute material on Harry and Meghan, saying that after Christmas many of us would want to separate from our families, and suggesting the difficulties the royals faced in what to buy Uncle Andy as a present – “Deodorant?” The Irishman helpfully explained the difference between calling someone an "eejit" and a "gobshite", for some reason using Boris Johnson as an example...

The best came last as Ian Stone (pictured above), a favourite among his fellow professionals, took the stage to end the evening, and gave us a masterclass in owning the audience from the off. “Normally I talk about politics but things have been a bit quiet for the past three years,” he deadpanned – and then was away. In a blistering 15-minute set, he ran though Brexit, Muslim clerics, the situation in the Middle East, UK immigration, nut allergies and being Jewish, with a killer line for each. A triumph.

  • Leicester Comedy Festival 5-23 February
Stone gave a masterclass in owning the audience from the off


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Why have you only included the straight acts? I was there last night and you've completely omitted the LGBT and women comedians who performed that night.

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