Tuesday, October 11, 2011

stand up and be counted

Hearken ye back, my friends, if you will, to the brief bit I did some time back about the Bill Bailey gig we'd been to in Bristol. Now Bill was pretty good, but I don't want to claim that he was the catalyst for the sharp uptick in the frequency of our attendance at various comedy gigs in the Bristol and Cardiff area over the last 18 months or so. Nonetheless, deny it as I may, that uptick has provably and demonstrably happened, and so it demands an explanation. And yet I don't have one. Deal with it.

Anyway, we're perhaps in danger of straying from the point, which is, or was, a brief summary of some recent comedy gigs I've been to, possibly with a view to influencing, however slightly, your future comedy-gig-attendance behaviour patterns. I will say, in advance, that there seems to have been a bit of an Irish theme - I don't know why, that's just how it panned out.
  • Dara O'Briain, also in Bristol, in, if this review is of the same gig, which I suspect it is, March 2010. He's stopped doing the excellent homeopathy routine, but it was still very good.
  • Russell Howard at the Cardiff International Arena, which since we went there has mutated, Fiery Phoenix stylee, into the Motorpoint Arena. He was fine, though he's a bit matey and genial and bouncy for me, and the CIA (as it was) is a great huge echoey impersonal enormodome of a place, which isn't ideal for a comedy gig.
  • Dylan Moran at the St. David's Hall in Cardiff. I had high expectations of this as I love Black Books and I've seen some gig footage on TV which was hilarious. However, I don't know whether he was just having an off night (and with someone whose act is as apparently randomly rambling and discursive as Moran's - though of course it could be incredibly tightly scripted for all I know - there's probably some natural variation) or had imbibed too heartily of the backstage hospitality, but he seemed to be phoning it in somewhat. I was reassured that I hadn't just imagined this when he apologised when signing off before the interval for having been a bit rubbish and promised to be better afterwards. Which he was, to be fair, but the damage had been done.
  • Ed Byrne, also at the St. David's Hall, just a couple of weeks ago. Now I'd seen Ed Byrne on various comedy panel shows - Mock The Week, for instance - and he was, you know, OK. So my expectations were sort of middling - maybe that's the key, as in fact it was excellent.
Fondly remembered comedy gigs from my past include before-they-were-famous encounters with Harry Hill and Al Murray in the comedy/cabaret tent at Glastonbury back in the 1990s, punctuated by foul-mouthed and increasingly surreal (and increasingly naked as the evening wore on) compering from the late Malcolm Hardee, including some memorable banter with a bloke in the audience who kept bellowing "tell us a joke" at him. Hardee's reply was "OK, I'll tell you a joke - there was an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman.....and they all thought you were a cunt".

Now that Bill Hicks is dead the living comic I'd most like to get to see is probably Stewart Lee, though I accept that he is a bit Marmite-y - you either think the Beckettian deconstruction of all the scaffolding under the jokes is the funniest thing ever or you hate every minute of it. I find it difficult to believe that people would not find the somewhat controversial Top Gear routine to be a work of genius though. Also, showbiz anecdote time: I once saw Stewart Lee walking past the Queen's Head and Artichoke pub near Great Portland Street tube station in London while I was sitting around outside with my friends Mark & Lorna eating tapas. Slightly redder in the face and fatter in real life, as all showbiz types are when not caked in slap and wearing a corset.

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