Comedy Review: John Bishop, Winging It live at the 02 Arena
Last night John Bishop played London’s O2 Arena for the first of two nights at the venue as part of his Winging It tour.
The comedian often opens with a video link and, true to form, Bishop started the show from a bathtub, admitting he was getting lazy with his tours due to old age – a key theme throughout the show. He also insisted on playing some ‘pop videos’ to get the massive crowd hyped up for the evening ahead.
Madonna’s ‘Vogue’, Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold’, Kylie Minogue’s ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ and Robbie Williams ‘Let Me Entertain You’ all got the Bishop treatment, with the Liverpudlian starring in the iconic videos.
Taking to the stage, Bishop got the crowd going by reminding everyone it was a Thursday night in London and therefore the start of the weekend.
It’s been three years since the comedian’s Supersonic Tour and Bishop split the show into themes of what has happened to him over the last 18 months.
The first half of the show focused on age, with the comedian recently turning 50. He talked about noticing the changes in his body and the decisions he was making, while also comparing how different men are to women when getting old. The comedian made frequent references to his wife and friends comparing themselves to when they were younger; something all adults tend to do.
Bishop is unlike other comedians who write gags and take notes of things that they think would be funny. Instead, he takes key experiences that have happened to him recently and tests them out on smaller audiences. Most recently, Bishop tried them out on a small Scottish audience for a warm-up tour for Winging It.
His honesty in the show revealed a different side to the comedian, as he admitted he went through an ‘odd depression’ once his kids had left the nest. To fill the void, his wife, Melanie, took in rescued animals to which the comedian said she’d taken it too far. Horses, Shetland ponies, chickens and a hypochondriac pig brought Bishop back to his theme of age and getting older.
Overall, it was great to see Bishop back on stage and on top form. He’s still one of the greatest comics on the circuit today, telling personal stories and sharing experiences that the audience can relate too.
Live Review: Charlie Baker’s Cabaret Boulangerie at The Other Palace Review
Following a successful string of shows, Charlie Baker’s Cabaret Boulangerie returned to London’s The Other Palace theatre on the 23 May, 2017.
Boasting a roster that includes an array of comedians, magicians and musicians, the show offered something for everyone and was headlined by quick-fire pun comic Tim Vine.
Starting off proceedings was comedian Tom Allen, who was a last minute addition to the line-up replacing Angela Barns. Allen was a great replacement act, opening the show with a discussion on how his accent is often misrepresented and the challenges of passing his driving test. Allen’s charm and quick wit had audiences in fits of laughter, getting them warmed up for the 2 hour spectacular of a show.
Next up was British comedy magician John Archer, whose tricks and rib-tickling stories entertained the 120-capacity crowd.
A highlight of the evening was guitarist Deirdre Cartwright, who performed two songs – one with a jazz influence and a cover version of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’ – before returning to the stage with musical theatre performer Gabrielle Brooks (who’s appeared in West End shows The Book of Mormon and I Can’t Sing). After a couple of songs, Brooks revealed to the audience that there’s a new Tina Turner musical in the pipeline, which she auditioned for, before perfecting a cover version of ‘Proud Mary’.
The second half of the night saw award-winning comedian Nathan Caton take to the stage. Having seen the laidback and charming comedian perform a few year’s ago at a tiny Northern London theatre alongside Romesh Ranganathan, it was great to see him tackle a bigger event, discussing how his life has matured since moving out his parent’s house.
At the end of the night, Tim Vine performed his fast paced one-liners to the audience who were left in hysterics as the comedian packed a punch with his constant stream of quick-witted jokes. The extravaganza saw the comic do his reputable ‘pen behind the ear’ routine, which pretty much does what it is says in the title.
The night was a huge success with MC Charlie Baker guiding the audience through the cabaret line-up, delivering an unforgettable evening of entertainment.
Live Review: Micky Flanagan live at Leicester Square Theatre (21st January 2017)
Micky Flanagan played a sold out 400 capacity venue at London’s Leicester Square Theatre in anticipation of his 2017 UK and Ireland tour An’ Another Fing.
Playing a colossal 13 dates in London alone, to nearly 250,000 people, Flanagan’s material mainly involved what he has been up to since taking a year off from the limelight including observing building sites, midday drinking and creating uneasiness amongst customers in corner shops.
Flanagan was one of the first comedians I had seen in 2012 playing a small and intimate show at 200 capacity Pleasance Theatre, since then he’s embarked on several tours and is one of the most recognisable comedians in the UK today.
Keeping topical, no subjects were left behind with brief mentions of the women’s march, Trump’s inauguration and celebrity deaths of 2016.
The Bethnal Green comedian interacted with members of the front row having a cabbie’s knowledge of the east end and relating to audience member’s various hometowns. Flanagan’s wife was mentioned heavily throughout the show often depicting her as a goddess throughout their 16 year marriage.
Since his last DVD (The Back In The Game Tour) the comedian jokily depicts of how he is ‘rolling in money’ since touring and how he can do whatever he wants now fame has come. Proving his ability to make absolutely anything funny, Flanagan managed to make a full 10 minute routine on BBC programme Eat Well for Less? which sees families across the UK reduce their food bills with help from Gregg Wallace – the comedian’s impression of Wallace is uncanny.
It’s clear to see that the 54 year old comedian is back at his best and able as ever to put audiences in continual fits of laughter during his 90 minute show.
Read more of the comedy review on Contact Music
Live Review: Jack Whitehall live at Soho Theatre
Jack Whitehall played at London’s Soho Theatre, on Saturday, in preparation of his upcoming UK arena tour ‘At Large’ in February 2017. Making his own personal announcement and welcoming himself to the stage, Whitehall played to an intimate 140 seater capacity venue.
Opening up his set by recalling his recent trip to the U.S. and telling us how he tried to break America only for his efforts to be thwarted by continual misfortune. Whitehall was off to a great start and continued by regaling us with his excitement in seeing a fellow passenger watching his DVD while up in the air. Nonetheless, the comedian’s proud moment was ruined, as the person in question, turned off his DVD after 5 minutes instead choosing to watch the in-flight entertainment.
Hotels were the next topic of focus as Jack explained how he had to switch hotels while on tour. He actively showed how he loved staying away from home because of the “hotel freebies” he received. Listing many of the “freebies” he had gained while on tour that included a surprise which he pulled out of his back pocket to the astonishment of audience members.
No topics were left unturned by the comedian as he was just as happy ripping into A League of their Own co-stars Freddie Flintoff and Jamie Rednapp as he was talking about his recent experience on the Royal Variety show and his brief encounter with Prince Harry. Whitehall demonstrated affection towards the royal family member and how he would love to see the prince in charge of the country, even if it was only for a week.
A highlight of the set included how the comedian experienced his first Muslim wedding and touching on taboo subjects of how they do not drink at the ceremony. Whitehall described how this led to an encounter with an 8 year old child in saving the day in playing a game of “would you rather?”. The comedic style Whitehall projects through his engaging and charismatic persona is conveyed to the audience and it’s easy to see why he is one of the popular comedians, personalities and panellists on the TV in recent years.
Whitehall’s set was a strong first work in progress show and one of the best previews’s I have seen in recent years. The Whitehall’s set was confident from start to finish with not much material not needing alteration for the mammoth ‘At Large’ arena tour that is ahead of him.
Live Review- Jackie Mason live at Adelphi Theatre
Jackie Mason’s six night run at London’s Adelphi Theatre came to an end last night with his Ready to Rumble show being his last ever UK dates.
Nicknamed the ‘Ultimate Jew’ Mason keeps his comedy charm at the forefront to his performance by satirising his religion. The comedy set made references to Jewish marriage with the US comedian insisting why he doesn’t know why they bother getting married, and mocking of traditional Jewish stereotypes of being money savvy. Mason sticks to what he knows being the best person to mock his own religious beliefs and is allowed to because he was a ‘former Rabi’.
The first half sees the New York comedian discuss his travels as a comedian playing in numerous venues across Las Vegas and how the gambling culture is unlike anywhere else in the world. Mason proposed people only to the gambling state purely to waste money and nothing else wanting the glorified Las Vegas experience.
Views on London were a positive one, with the usual ‘not one to complain’ city at the forefront of his jokes. Mason stated London had a special place in his heart by having fond memories of the city and playing some of his favourite shows in the capital. The comedian’s sharp wit was prominent by interlinking on being a Jewish tourist in London and his amazement at the stunning architecture of the Houses of Parliament being ten minutes away from the theatre venue.
Mason, who is known for his controversial PC comments didn’t go unnoticed by audience members with awkward laughs taking place to do with race and religion. The ridiculing of American politics was indefinite compared to his take on British politics by claiming Hilary Clinton was a ‘white version’ Barack Obama and not achieving anything before their political careers. Moving onto British politics, Mason interacted with audience members by conducting a poll on whether or not the UK should be in the EU. The response to the poll raised a few eyebrows with the comedian mocking people who though they should be in the EU. The US star gave an eligible argument to the opting out of the EU referendum, while praising the UK for their economy, healthcare and education, into why they do not need other countries being independent enough as a nation.
Topical stories such as his unawareness of technology and apps were covered insisting his turns to his eight year old grandchild for help. The US comedian explained US celebrities Kim Kardashian and Kanye West to an audience who were surprised the 85 year olds knew who they were. Recent controversies of Sepp Blatter and FIFA were discussed in Mason’s superb comic style.
The star’s sarcasm didn’t go unnoticed as the comedian frequently insisting his doesn’t like to moan with his spectacular rant on airport security. The fast section of the show included how airport lines charge extensive amounts of money for any movement on the plane. The rant included having to where to sit, how to sit and how early you board the plane feeling as if you were part of an auction and displaying Mason’s perfect comedy timing.
The second half of the show saw a less comedic style but personal side to the comedian’s set. Talking to the audience more and showing his true appreciation for the fans coming out to see him live time and time again spanning his six decade career as a comedian. Mason’s enthusiasm is still as sharp as ever with his showmanship shining through on stage, even laughing at his own jokes, makes him even more likeable and charming as a comedian.
Seeing Mason live marked a standpoint in comedy history with the New York comedian playing his final farewell shows in the UK and how his unique comedic observations on life will be truly missed by his UK fans.
Russell Howard performed to a mere 300 lucky comedy fans at Camden’s Lock 17 last night, in preparation for his brand new TV show, which is set to be featured on Comedy Central.
Prior to the show, audience members were asked to contribute questions or dilemmas to the 34-year-old Bristol born comedian, allowing the audience to have some input. When Howard took to the stage, he dipped in and out of the questions – which also featured some from the internet – breaking up his new material and giving fans a treat of what to expect in the new TV show.
Howard was his usual cheeky-chappy self, interacting with and showing an interest in the audience members. The show’s highlights included a Polish man using self-promotion to plug his own business and a Canadian who thought massages were meant to be painful; contrary to Howard’s recent massage of awkwardness.
There was a no holds barred approach for Howard’s set, as the comedian discussed topics such as Jimmy Savile, politics and Nigel Farage. Walking the edge of what’s deemed ‘appropriate’ is something that Howard is well versed at after years on the comedy scene.
Fans were also treated to two supporting acts on the night: American comedian John Kearns, who won the Best Show at Edinburgh Comedy Awards 2014. His short yet sharp performance saw him live up to the award as he engaged with the audience and kept them entertained with his tales of working in KFC. His viewpoint on distancing himself from other Americans since living in the UK provided a humorous but slightly true view of how the British, in particular Londoners, ignore other people on the train.
As the other special guest, comedienne Holly Walsh provided a light hearted and timely set by discussing relationships, the dreaded Valentine’s Day and her own personal romantic experiences.
Howard’s Lock 17 show was a great opportunity to see one of the UK’s favourite comedians in an intimate venue. With two amusing supporting acts and a heap of audience interaction, there were smiles all round when the show ended.
Nathan Caton, Suzi Ruffell and Romesh Ranganathan Live at Pleasance Theatre
Monday night’s live performance at London’s Pleasance Theatre was the ultimate feast of comedy talent.
Opening the evening proceedings was 30-year-old comedian Nathan Caton, who made two entrances and received a warm welcome in return. Caton instantly interacted with the audience with an inquisitive style of heckling. His main victim – who sat less than a metre away from him in the front row – kept getting questioned by Caton before stating, ‘is this the me show?’.
This received the biggest laugh within the first five minutes, with the London born comedian apologizing but continuing to ask more intriguing and personal questions. The topic went on to relationships and how this poor gentleman met his girlfriend through blind dates, which allowed Caton to relay his own personal ordeals of the worse first dates he’s been on. He then went on to discuss recent fears of terrorism, Ebola, UKIP and, bizarrely, Miley Cyrus.
Caton’s material is a work in progress that frequently emitted gasps from the audience; hopefully some of this hilarious material will make it to next year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Having previously featured on Russell Howard’s Good News, the comedian’s relaxed comedy style and smooth approach made his performance all the more enjoyable.
A surprise guest and unannounced act on the bill was Suzi Ruffell, who took to the stage with a short set.
Ruffell – who’s written for shows including 8 Out Of 10 Cats, Stand Up For The Week and The Last Leg – gave a lively and energetic performance. However, the comedienne’s sometimes-frantic set did cause some confusion, with some audience members finding it hard to grasp the fast-paced and nervous comedy style.
Ruffell ended her brief 15 minute set with a story of the ‘worst day of her life’ and how she missed one of her comedy gigs due to two glasses of wine and mistakenly taking two back pain tablets. It was an impressive end to the relatively short performance.
After a quick interval, it was Crawley born comedian Romesh Ranganathan’s turn to amuse the audience.
The 36-year-old comedian’s narrative correlated with Caton’s by featuring topics such as Ebola and UKIP but with a more harsh and controversial outlook, which left the audience in hysterics; it’s his brash and miserable outlook on life that has made him so popular.
Ranganathan, who has supported the likes of Ricky Gervais, Sean Walsh and Paul Chowdhry, covered subjects such as Iggy Azalea and the TV programme Googlebox, with Ranganathan pondering why the Channel 4 show has become so popular when it’s essentially ‘people watching other people watch television’. The comedian’s view on iPhones was a particular highlight, which saw him discussing how he’ll forever be trapped by Apple, never escaping to any other phone brand.
Towards the end of the set, the comedian deliberated on cinema, overpriced popcorn and how he became emotional during the end of Men in Black 3; more so than his father’s death or the birth of any his three children, questioning his own human emotions.
Overall the night exhibited an array of alternative comedy with raw talent emerging and a hint of what next years’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival might entail.
An Evening with Noel Fielding at London’s Soho Theatre
Before Noel Fielding’s full UK tour kicks off next week in Guildford, I was able to catch a work in progress show at London’s Soho Theatre.
Receiving a huge welcome, wider than expected from the small 140-seated capacity theatre, the 41-year-old comedian thanked the audience for coming. The opening to the show was very off-the-cuff with Fielding creating an informal atmosphere, as if we were having a one-on-one conversation with the star.
The narrative of the show saw Fielding come to terms with turning 41 and how life has completely changed for him. He believes that his mannerisms, outlook and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle have toned down due to hitting the big 4-1 this year. However, fans of Boosh and Fielding needn’t worry, as he used this as the basis to create a brilliant yet chaotic comedy series come to life. Highlights of the first half included Fielding’s dream that he was a herbal tea and how he created a class division through milk. With jokes like this, the London born comedian kept his witty yet surreal outlook on life at the heart of his show.
The evening was not a solo performance though, with Fielding’s brother, Mike, and actor Tom Meeton, who both star in Fielding’s Luxury Comedy, making an appearance. The two stars played numerous characters throughout the live show, including Hawkeye and Meeton’s fantastic impersonation of Antonio Banderas.
The use of animation is at the forefront of Fielding’s TV series and it was brilliantly introduced into the live stage show too. Fielding’s plasticine character, Joey Ramone, was used as a way to break down the live show, presenting a mixture of slapstick yet stunning animation from Nigel Coan.
Post interval and the comedian was ‘kidnapped’ from his own show, with Luxury Comedy characters coming to his rescue to try and solve the case. Fan favourites Sergeant Raymond Boombox and Fantasy Man were brought to the stage, both of which are played by Fielding. The characters interacted with the audience by sitting on their laps, shoving cameras in their faces, and pushing the bar by teasing people.
With this preview, Fielding was at the top of his game, showing exactly why his unique comic style will be around for many more years to come.
Fielding’s 23-date UK tour kicks off on 20 October.