Reviews & features: Comedy, Issue 664

118 reviews

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Unshakeable

11 Aug 20102 stars

Paul Betney jokingly describes his life with Parkinson's

Paul Betney lived with undiagnosed Parkinson’s disease for 18 years before finally finding medication that helps suppress his uncontrollable shaking. With the aid of video clips, slide shows and jokes, he talks about his life pre- and post-medication.

Sam Simmons

11 Aug 20102 stars

Somewhat lacklustre

Some show titles require little comment when they are so horribly apt. For an hour which bounds around at breakneck speeds, as Simmons contemplates the things he loves and hates in life, its heart and soul is somewhat lacklustre. Taking part in a…

Smith and Smith

11 Aug 20102 stars

Dry self-deprecation and an irreverent take on immortality

Some flimsy premises provide the platform for two men named Smith to come together. James W Smith talks of life and its problems (mainly children) in dry self-deprecation, though the pathos rarely pays off. Daniel Smith does, however, seem more at ease…

Stuart Goldsmith

11 Aug 20104 stars

On the road to proper glory

Goldsmith insists he’s a Reasonable Man and his blokish bonhomie certainly doesn’t appear to mask a ghastly individual. Standing out from the crowd is his chief concern here as he recalls being a failed goth in white trainers, a street performer who…

New Art Club

11 Aug 20104 stars

Original, charming and very funny

A best-of compilation from the comedy dance duo (who can actually dance) in which Tom Roden and Pete Shenton replay their best bits. Loyal fans and Johnny-come-latelys get to see minimalist experimental pieces, clever wordy numbers and downright silly…

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Rob Rouse

11 Aug 20103 stars

Spinning the mundane into the finest yarn

So, what have you been up to? A half-decent comedian should be able to cobble together an entertaining answer to this simple premise and Rouse doesn’t disappoint. Without high concept, gimmick or whimsy, he relates incidents from his recent move to the…

Stephen Carlin - The Podium of Unconditional Surrender

10 Aug 20103 stars

Airdrie wag refuses to get tough

Stephen Carlin doesn’t really have a thing, in that way that comedians do: no identifying features. In his comedy, not facially. Facially he’s easy to spot: good-looking, with the sort of dastardly moustache that you rather suspect is going to turn out…

Adam Riches

10 Aug 20103 stars

Riches’ latest show is supremely daft

Even by this crazy character comic’s standards, Riches’ latest show is supremely daft. A theme park inspired by Pierce Brosnan’s turn as a centaur in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief is the lame excuse for a bolt through several silly…

Alex Horne

10 Aug 20103 stars

Clever maths, quantum mechanics and pleasingly lo-fi graphics

This is another of Horne’s endearingly geeky, PowerPoint-assisted shows. There’s some bamboozling clever maths, brief lessons in quantum mechanics and pleasingly lo-fi graphics as Horne outlines his bet with William Hill to achieve a hole in one at golf…

Ali Cook

10 Aug 20103 stars

Cook’s magic is both slick and sick

As he promises from the outset, Cook’s magic is both slick and sick. Don’t go for the jokes, unless you like tired Jimmy Carr-style one-liners followed by a leer. But go to be dumbfounded by the mind-boggling illusion and seemingly future-active…

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Brendon Burns

10 Aug 20102 stars

Overly serious rants about killing paedophiles and getting religion

Given that Burns yells from start to finish, why the loudmouth Aussie stand-up needs acoustic accompaniment is anyone’s guess. His guitarist mate’s presence also unbalances the show with an opening comic jam that forces Burns to rush the ending.

Celia Pacquola

10 Aug 20104 stars

A buoyant performance, surprising and cathartic

If performing stand-up is flirting with humiliation, Celia Pacquola takes humiliation home to meet her mum: having never learned the piano, she ends Flying Solos by attempting a virtuoso piece. She prefaces the attempt by effusively recounting previous…

Chris McCausland

10 Aug 20103 stars

McCausland meanders off on wildly varying tangents

Opening with an incensed email criticising his show’s title – Emotional Retard – which he neatly defends, McCausland meanders off on wildly varying tangents. He’s at his best when philosophising over close relationships and some of his musings carry…

Comedy Bitch

10 Aug 20104 stars

Intelligent, surreal and original

The terms ‘television’ and ‘Comedy Bitch’ are often uttered in the same breath and no wonder. Their pastiches of pop culture’s favourite genres - horror, espionage, period drama – are intelligent, surreal and original, and their nostalgic incidental…

Comedy in the Dark

10 Aug 20102 stars

Well-known comics pitched out of their comfort zones

Selling a show as ‘comedy in the dark’? Make sure the lights go out completely in the venue. It’s interesting to see well-known comics pitched out of their comfort zones (Shappi Khorsandi discovering how much of her routine was based on facial comedy…

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Dan Antopolski

10 Aug 20104 stars

Confidently entertaining

It’s difficult for a comedian to both maintain a wide appeal and avoid falling into a safe and cliché-riddled set. Antopolski copes admirably with the mission, mixing gags (and there’s one to compete with last year’s ‘hedgehog’ phenomenon) with personal…

Edward Aczel

10 Aug 20104 stars

Somehow incredibly funny without even trying

Aczel’s latest show is a hi-energy romp packed with sharp one-liners. Only joking, it’s as low-key and anti-comedy as ever. Reading from his A4 notes, flicking through his badly presented flipchart and barely making eye contact, he reveals all the…

Felix Dexter

10 Aug 20103 stars

Observational stand-up and nicely realised characters

The veteran character comic introduces us to Julius the Nigerian, dispirited at the lack of romance in bump ‘n’ grind R&B, Harlesden wide boy Early D and posh Cotswold bigot Aubrey who ‘sees the point in the working class’. Though there’s nothing…

Geraldine Quinn

10 Aug 20103 stars

Flash your flesh, your cash and your camel toe

In an era of ‘pop with no pants’, Geraldine Quinn explains how to be a singing sensation, even if you can’t sing: flash your flesh, your cash and your camel toe. Vivacious and confident, Quinn mercifully can hit a note, and her lyrics are wry and…

Giacinto Palmieri

10 Aug 20102 stars

This stilted performance was a pile of sweaty meatballs

Due to Palmieri’s comically strong Italian accent and the manic whirring of several fans, it was hard to determine precisely how funny this gentle narrative about nationality and language was or wasn’t. Respect to the man for his charm, and attempting…

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Henning Wehn

10 Aug 20104 stars

German humour remains a joke in itself

As long as German humour remains a joke in itself, Wehn’s enormously referential style is unlikely to change. It’s lucky he can still do it with the originality and talent it requires, with his outsider take on British culture spawning some…

Jimeoin

10 Aug 20104 stars

Low-key observations about the little things

An hour with Jimeoin is an hour of tickling, low-key observations about the little things, the sweet little interior monologue of a normal bloke negotiating everyday stuff, such as how to conserve energy opening the fridge, or the speed of a knife…

Kai Humphries

10 Aug 20102 stars

Desperately needs an injection of sharper gags

There’s something about the Geordie accent (see Brummie and Somerset for details) that makes us want to laugh at rather than with anyone forced by nature to wield it. Humphries pretty much acknowledges this setback as he fails to overcome the hurdle in…

Noise Next Door

10 Aug 20104 stars

It’s very rare to see improv comedy so consistently hit the mark

A compact stage benefits this quintet’s matey charm and it’s refreshing to see improv performed with such a professional lack of corpsing. Audience members are incorporated but not humiliated and there’s a great deal of fun to be had in spotting the…

Tom Craine

10 Aug 20102 stars

Achingly upper middle-class meanderings

A small audience is always hard, but the achingly upper middle-class meanderings on offer here were never really going to lift the room. However, you have to admire the confidence of a man in his material when he repeatedly builds in spaces for audience…