Archive for September 2010
Tuesday 18th May 2010
In the basement for another dose of Michael McIntyre, working to perfect his routine for the upcoming Comedy Roadshows.
A small treat for those arriving early as the owner of the Leicester Square Theatre allowed people into the main hall to see Andy Sharrocks & The Smokin Jackets. Not really a country music fan, but I thought the band were pretty good.
In the basement, John Gordillo was up on stage first, but unlike previous shows, he performed for over 20 mins. Practising for his appearance on the Comedy Showcase at the Comedy Store, He had the audience in stitches talking about his Spanish father’s Communist views. Both the accent and the material were spot on.
At one point, Michael McIntyre jokingly barged open the door to correct John Gordillo on the number of venues and people who had seen his sell-out tour. Slightly disparaging for the support act, who to his own admission is barely able to sell out venues in Leyton Buzzard.
Unfortunately, Michael McIntyre’s performance on the night was slightly under par, but to be fair to him, he was unwell. One of the highlights was when he asked if anyone had any paracetamol, only for an audience member to provide him with an astonishing array of tablets. That inevitably lead to a fun exchange with the audience, involving a number of the drugs on offer.
A fun night out, with John Gordillo outshining a rather poorly Michael McIntyre.
Monday 17th May 2010
Time for Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Showcase at the Comedy Store, as the first of five back-to-back comedy nights.
At the Comedy Showcase a couple of weeks ago, Imran Yusuf and Hal Cruttenden stole the show. Referred to as the FA Cup of Comedy, it was now up to a new set of 8 acts to perform their magic. Arrived early and chose the second row, purposely missing out on the front row and any potential eye contact with Michael McIntyre, in case he destroyed me again.
To be fair the front row provided excellent material for Michael McIntyre to comment on, especially the couple and her parents. Although, he was gobsmacked when a girl said she was a funeral director, only for her boyfriend to add that he tidied up soldier’s graves. To everyone’s surprise they didn’t actually meet at work.
Luckily for Michael McIntyre he had other considerations to worry about. Namely, the spider that was gate crashing the event. In sight of everyone, it was now stationed between himself and the front row. Something had to be done, as the audience was fixated on the spider. Obviously, he’s seen the original Karate Kid. A few swift moves and he’d dealt with the spider. Similar to his observation of people attempting to get water from the latest style of wash basins (those without the usual taps).
There was a variety of performances on offer on the night, including musical comedy from the imaginative Paul Thorne and the somewhat scary Loretta Maine. Good performances too from Andrew Bird and Saleem. If anyone was to edge it on the night it was probably Kojo, Andrew Lawrence and Paul Chowdry. However, my personal favourite was Ed Aczel. One of the most absurd, yet innovative acts I’ve seen. He’s unlikely to make it onto the Comedy Roadshow, as he’s not mainstream enough, but his work with the flip chart was hilarious.
Another superb night out, with some outstanding performances on the night. Good luck to all of the performers.
Friday 14th May 2010
Really excited to be having a 4th night at the opera and blessed to be able to catch the performance of La Traviata at the Royal Opera House.
Once again, this is by no means a critical review of the opera. Even though I’ve managed to see a few performances already, my knowledge on the subject is barely above zero.
The position of the seats in the amphitheatre were similar to those during La Boheme. Ushered to our seats, there was time for a brief science-based chat before the performance began. Whilst my friend joked that I should have booked a box, I was counting the rows only to realise that we were probably sent to the wrong row. Then I looked at the row in front and noticed our seats. Just as I was about to say something, the actual occupants of the seats were standing over me. Difficult to explain the weirdness of the timing of it all.
The performance of opera itself was sensational. The orchestra was exceptional, primarily because I recognised the majority of the music, which can not be said for previous operas that I had been to.
A superb night out. La Traviata was everything I had hoped for and more, and that includes the champagne and ice cream during the interval. Now it’s up to Carmen, the 5th opera on the entertainment tour, to live up to the same expectations.
Tuesday 11th May 2010
I’d been looking forward to a trip to Oxford to see Paul Merton, one of my comedy heroes. I’d even had contact with his PR team and booked train tickets in advance. Surely, nothing was going to stop me from going.
Unfortunately, Nottingham Forest were playing the 2nd leg of the Championship Play-Off Semi-Final at home to Blackpool. I considered recording it and switching off every possible type of communication, but I knew deep down I wouldn’t be able to focus. So I had no alternative but to give the tickets away to a friend.
By the end of the evening, the pain was threefold. Firstly, the words ‘David Cameron is the new Prime Minister’ flashed across the screen and covered most of the pitch. Secondly, Forest lost at home to Blackpool, amazingly the fourth time we’d lost to them in one season. And thirdly, Paul Merton’s Impro Chums was excellent and my friend still talks about how amazing the evening was.
Oh the pain of improvising…
Monday 10th May 2010
I’m a massive fan of the unscripted banter between Lee Mack and Dave Mitchell on the panel show Would I Lie To You? along with the scripted banter with Tim Vine and Miranda Hart in Not Going Out. Now I had the chance to see him perform live at the Apollo.
Simon Evans opened the show with an excellent opening performance. Pointing out that he had no eyes, the audience was fixated, although a few seemed to have noticed anyway. His calm, upper class style of comedy was a hit, even though at times he had us on a knife-edge, which was totally apparent during the English, Welsh and Pakistani joke. Complete silence, followed by sense of relief and laughter.
Lee Mack began his Going Out Tour, which was being filmed for DVD, with a magic trick. He picked out a teenager from the audience, invited him on stage, then locked him up in a magician’s chest. Instead of completing the trick, he ushered him off stage, shouting out “I did say NO kids.”
Rushing back and forth from the stage, he was evidently a different performer from the support act. Flowing with energy, Lee Mack was enjoying himself up there. Of course his style is often referred to as a modern-day Eric Morecambe. His humour is fitting for both the 1970s, as it is for 2010.
The show was full of interactions with the audience and his apparent annoyance at the hilarious responses shouted out to him. There is no doubt that is what he really wanted to hear, but seeing him fueled with anger was brilliant to see. It’s almost like we were all playing the part of David Mitchell.
There were so many highlights, but the impression of scousers sounding like dolphins was outstanding. With his disregard of Twitter and other technological advances, he was once asked “have you tried disabling cookies?” to which he responded “well, I once bit the legs off a gingerbread man.”
All in all, a must see performance. I loved every minute of it. Simon Evans was also a great choice as a support act. Lee Mack, thank you for a superb evening of comedy.
Saturday 8th May 2010
Having only seen glimpses of Reginald D Hunter, mainly on shows like Have I Got News For You, I was intrigued to see him perform live.
Back at the Arts Depot, but this time in the larger Pentland Theatre. The night began with the support act, Steve Hughes, with his brand of intellectual humour. There were a number of gems, especially the material on Murdoch, but my favourite had to be the ‘straight men, gay men’ routine.
After a short interval, it was time for Reginald D Hunter to take to the floor. Even by his own admission, this wasn’t going to be a continuous laugh out loud stand up routine. In fact, while there were many moments where the audience were in hysterics, this felt far more like a comedy lecture. The Tiger Woods material was exceptionally good. Suffice to say Nelson Mandela and Barrack Obama were not immune from his criticism.
I did feel sorry for poor Rupert, the young teenage Conservative. He was sat a couple of seats away from me, at the front of the stage. Imagine Reginald D Hunter asking who’d just voted Tory in the election, only for a dream stereotype to have the guts to put his hand up. Such an easy picking for the smart comedian and to be fair because of that he let him off lightly.
So there you have it. A comedian who swayed away from normal stand-up and towards a routine with principles presented in a humorous way. I really enjoyed it and would love to see Reginald D Hunter performing again.
Friday 7th May 2010
Considering I’d missed an earlier School of Gifted Children 5 weeks ago, I was determined to make it to the May Ball – Module One.
It was the evening after the early hours of the General Election result. With no clear winner, most of the audience seemed exhausted after staying up through the night to watch the race unfold. The only thing that was clear, was that nothing was clear. A slightly somber Robin Ince entered the stage, sharing the pain felt by most of the audience. However, an array of ‘gifted children’ from the worlds of comedy, science and beyond were backstage waiting for their opportunity to enlighten us.
It was up to Martin White, with his karaoke-style entertainment to give us a kick up the backside and awaken us from this nightmarish dream. With random audience answers defining the lyrics and musical notes, along with a 3 syllable title, Napalm Death was the astonishingly catchy outcome.
On stage next was Andrew Collins with his attack on the red squirrel brigade and their somewhat racist goal of wiping out the grey squirrels. He also let it be known that he’d like a robin to eat from his hand, a duck to give him a kiss on the cheek and to walk hand in hand with a pigeon. I wish him well with all his ambitions.
With her self-confessed Susan Boyle appearance, Susan Vale cracked on with ‘normally I just do gags about quantum physics and end with a joke about nobs, but I can’t because Brian is here tonight.’ With her enormous collection of CD’s from the Fall and audience participation, her routine was disturbingly funny.
‘Wonders Man’, Professor Brian Cox focused on the lack of government investment in scientific research. As I’d hoped, a spectacular slide show followed, with astonishing images including the Earth as a just a pale blue dot, along with the Milky Way in all its glory. Climate change deniers were provided with a lesson on ‘known’ facts, while astrologers who continue to correspond with him were told where to go in no uncertain terms.
Surprisingly, Dr Simon Singh was introduced next for a brief talk on libel reform, covering his ordeal with the British Chiropractic Association. He in turn introduced Ben Goldacre, focusing the plight of Dr Evan Harris, having lost his seat in the General Election to a Christian fundamentalist Conservative in the early hours. Both Simon and Ben arrived as a show of support for Evan, and after the 4th attempt to sound out the ex MP in the audience, he finally made his whereabouts known and the response was an immediate standing ovation.
The science talk continued with Adam Rutherford taking on mantle covering topics like ‘if we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?’ He focused on evolution and genetics, with the latest evidence on the often maligned Neanderthal. Maybe we really are closer to them than we are led to believe.
Gavin Osbourn, still fresh from playing the music to Napalm Death earlier, gave the audience a superb performance on the first time he’d seen Professor Brian Cox on HD. So yet another ‘gifted child’, focusing on the rise and rise of the ‘young’ professor.
Marcus Brigstocke was to provide the finale with a bout of comedy to send us all home with a smile on our face. He didn’t disappoint with his magic numbers routine, along with one of my favourites, the London bus ad campaigns.
So that was it. Or was it? The headmaster Robin Ince came out once again to a fully enlightened, and extremely tired audience, to announce yet another special guest. This time it was Tim Minchin. Walking barefooted onto the stage, the audience were given a rendition of The Pope Song, the first time he’d performed it live. That was the icing on the tastiest cake ever made!