sun 26/05/2024

Mark Watson's Carpool Comedy Club, Hever Castle review - mixed bill with gags and gourmet food | reviews, news & interviews

Mark Watson's Carpool Comedy Club, Hever Castle review - mixed bill with gags and gourmet food

Mark Watson's Carpool Comedy Club, Hever Castle review - mixed bill with gags and gourmet food

Classy outdoor entertainment

Mark Watson is curating a string of drive-in gigs with food catered by top chef Tom Kerridge

Drive-in comedy shows are now well into their groove (although sadly a couple of promoters have had to cut their losses because of poor sales at some venues), and distinct differences in approach to what's on offer have emerged. Clearly going for the upper end of the market is Dine and Drive Theatre, an old hand at curating outdoor events, whose USP is classy locations and food catered by top chef Tom Kerridge.

And very nice my picnic bag was too, with a decent assortment on offer – rather like the mixed bill on stage, curated by Mark Watson (who MCs each event in Mark Watson's Carpool Comedy Club in conjunction with Dine and Drive), in the lovely surroundings of Hever Castle in Kent on the kind of evening made for outdoor entertainment.

Watson can ramble at the best of times, and here was no different as he didn't so much perform a set as chat away to the audience about this and that. In fact at one point he gave a microphone to one of them, whom he allowed to burble on at length (not her fault) about her domestic lighting arrangements.

Daliso Chaponda was first on and made good use of his Malawi origins – “supplier of Madonna babies” – and told us how much more in demand the Black Lives Matter movement has made him. But, he wryly noted, he'd like to be asked for his opinion when something nice happens to black people...

Chaponda, while hugely likeable, does relationships material that occasional veers towards hack or even dodgy, but usually manages to haul it back. He covered a lot of territory in 20 minutes, including his Pentecostal upbringing, his British education in Malawi and the new manners of the Covid age.

Hal Cruttenden, always an amiable presence on stage, performed much the same set I saw at another drive-on show about being outnumbered at home by his wife and daughters, fantasising about being James Bond, his private education and being fat-shamed and, additionally here, large age gaps in relationships.

But the standout performance of the evening came from Zoe Lyons with a set full of energy, bonhomie and self-deprecating gags. She had been to Hever Castle before, she told us, when she recorded Celebrity MasterChef where one of her fellow contestants was reality star Gemma Collins. “I genuinely know what it's like to have a conversation with a bowl of porridge,” Lyons said, off to a cracking start.

Packing a lot into her 25 minutes, she talked about her lockdown. She's sick of her own cooking, and confessed her drinking had increased – “How many do you drink on a non-drinking night?” – and explained why she loves wearing a mask in public; she can now insult people when she's out and about because all they hear is a muffled “bellend”.

Her lengthy skit on wondering what it would be like if she placed one of her boobs in a Dyson hand drier, meanwhile, was filthy and huge fun.

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