John Bishop’s Winging It at the London Palladium

Star Rating: *****
The London Palladium
London W1
Review Date: 9th February 2018

Following a hugely successful national tour, that saw John Bishop play arena’s the length and breadth of the country, John Bishop returned to London for 3 shows at the world renowned London Palladium. Tiemo Talk of the Town caught the last of these shows and John Bishop was in happy go lucky end of term mood.

In a show of two halves, the first half including themes of getting older and meeting establishment figures such as The Queen and rock n roll royalty, Singer Bono. As he is well famous for, John Bishop told hugely entertaining stories of his encounters with these and other well known luminaries. They were a real joy to hear. As a huge U2 fan myself I can only imagine the joy and nervous trepidation he felt at meeting his musical heroes by chance whilst on holiday in America.

John Bishop

The inter-generational jokes were terrific as he divided the room into the under and over 50’s and reminisced about the differences in TV programming and dating over the years. The over 50’s for instance, raised on the positively genteel ‘Blind Date’ of Cilla Black versus the ‘Naked Attraction’ equivalent featuring Anna Richardson. The tinder material, nothing to do with wood for the un-initiated … although come to think of it LoL… was terrific and had a couple who’d obviously met on tinder noisily laughing away, so much so that John Bishop was on the verge of telling them off for enjoying themselves too much. It brought the house down when he said to the man, “You should take her home now. I think she’s ready.”

Judging by the knowing laughter in the theatre, his ruminations around getting older struck a chord with the more mature members of the audience.

The second half spoke of the highs and lows of fatherhood, versus the reality that hits you when you go through ‘empty nest syndrome’. However much you might want your children ( 3 boys) to fly the nest , he missed them really when they left and went through a period of depression when they weren’t around. It was good of him to talk about this. He might have been joking of course, but he earlier praised the good work of Princes William and Harry in promoting the Heads Together mental health initiative, so I suspect there might have been an element of truth to that.

He seems to have replaced a testosterone filled house with animals as he appears to have turned his home into a farm, such is the huge number of pets and animals he and his wife have.

This was a brilliant show of the highest quality and it was a real pleasure to watch John Bishop in his element on stage. He said the show’s entitled ‘Winging It’ as he doesn’t sit down and write out a show years or months in advance, but much closer to the time the tour starts. I find that hard to believe, but you never know. He has a great knack for telling humorous stories and I can see how with that mindset you can create comedy gold out of so many situations, from the everyday to the unique opportunities that open up when you are a celebrity.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

The Winging It tour finishes in March 2018 with a final series of dates from 8th – 30th March 2018.

Advertisements
Posted in Comedy Reviews 2018 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Revelling in Bajan Comedy

The Comedy Bunker
Star Rating: *****
MC: Paul Revell
Comedians: Quincy, Nico Yearwood & John Moloney
The Comedy Bunker
Ickenham
Middlesex HA4
Review Date: 2nd February 2018

What do you get when two Bajan’s and two Englishmen walk into a bar? You needed to be at The Comedy Bunker earlier this month to find out as this isn’t the set up to a punchline, but what actually happened at the opening night of the 2018 season at The Fairway, home of The Comedy Bunker, for the show featured Nico Yearwood and Quincy, who both happen to hail from Barbados. I’ve never ever seen that before and even Nico Yearwood himself commented on the novelty of having two Bajan, arguably the only two UK based Bajan comedians, on the line up.

Nico Yearwood

You could see that the audience really enjoyed all of the performances. Nico Yearwood showcased a witty repertoire of jokes and stories about living in London, life in Bardados and immigration. Quincy’s set went down extremely well with a strong emphasis on fatherhood as he recalled raising his grown up sons, giving back to the community, keeping fit and healthy and the spins off from his borough, Newham, hosting the 2012 Olympic Games.

Headliner John Moloney was superb, with rapid fire jokes and some longer winded stories about pets and his school teaching days, where amongst other things he taught German. Mind you, there is no connection between the two … well at least I don’t think he taught dogs to speak German! That would require an exceptionally clever dog and exceptional Teacher!!

Paul Revell

MC Paul Revell knitted everything together wonderfully as host for the night. He worked the room well in a good natured, jovial manner and because of that the crowd were happy to engage in dialogue with him which all added to the night’s entertainment, thanks to deep voiced Jamaican Michael, the IT Engineer; the two HR & Payroll women, the Surveyor and Software Engineer.

It was great to see the venue packed for the opening show of the year at what is one of the country’s longest running, most popular regular comedy clubs. What the audience got when two Bajan men and two Englishmen walked into the bar at Comedy Bunker was an excellent night of top quality stand up comedy. The cultural origin’s of their comedy may have been varied, but the largely English audience, was hugely entertained by all four comedians and showed once again the power of comedy to transcend cultural differences and unite people in laughter.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Posted in Comedy Reviews 2018 | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hey Mr Tambourine Man: Chris Rock’s The 02

Total Blackout Tour: Chris Rock
Star Rating: *****
The 02 Arena
Greenwich
London SE10
Review Date: 28th January 2018

2008 was the year President Obama won the USA presidential election. January 2008 was also the last time Chris Rock toured the UK.  A lot’s changed since then, not just in a global sense of course, but in Chris Rock’s personal life too, much of  which he freely shared and joked about on stage as he reflected on his life then and now. The Obama’s gets a mention too so maybe the long gap between tours is not such a co-incidence after all.

Politically speaking from an American perspective, 2008 was the final full year of President George W Bush’s presidency. We’re now a year into President Trump’s tenure. Sandwiched between these deeply unpopular and widely ridiculed leaders of the free world, we had the hugely popular and influential President Barack Obama who, whatever your views on his politics, in the main restored the good name and standing of the office of President of the United States of America.  Chris Rock didn’t dwell too much on Trump, other than to acknowledge the embarrassment he is widely perceived to be, whilst observing during his time in the UK that we too have our own problems with political leadership plus Brexit to focus on.

In his time away from the stand-up stage, he has been busy making numerous films and famously hosting the Oscars in 2016, when the diversity scandal was swirling around Hollywood. Now he’s gone back to what made his name in the first place and created the opportunities to branch out into movies.

Total Blackout is the name of this tour, not what happened inside the o2 Arena, although the name might be a reference to the no mobile phone policy Chris Rock insisted on. This meant that all mobile phones were literally totally blacked out and unusable in the pretty little green pouches phone users were given. I daresay if Dynamo Magician were present he would have found a way to remove his phone, but as most of us don’t possess his magical powers, all attendees had to accept that their phones were out of reach until the show was over. Whilst many may have been uncertain about being without their phones for a few hours it actually made for a more enjoyable experience all round as, just as in the old days, you just had to focus on the show or having conversations during intervals rather than being distracted by phones.  Living in the moment. You don’t actually find yourself missing it. That may have been in no small part due to the fine quality of the show, which easily held the attention from the moment Chris Rock entered the stage to the moment he took his final bow. There was never a lull or dull moment in his set that even made you think about checking your phone.

Total Blackout could also be a nod to ‘rogue US police officers’ unspoken policy of wiping out young African-American’s. Chris Rock took aim, verbally only, at the US cops, by using a vivid analogy linking his desire for equality via a cunning and not so subtle plan to level out the killing fields of America. He anticipated that this would result in a reduction of the injustice of what’s been happening in the States with increasing regularity over the past decade.  Decades in fact. His “black humoured” solution whilst obviously not serious, made his point with great wit and humour. He turned the madness on its head to try to make sense out of nonsense.

He had a lot to say about ‘white privilege’ in the show. For instance, whilst acknowledging that he is very famous, he recognises that his fame is not quite at Michael Jackson levels of recognition and therefore at the end of the day, strip away the celebrity – which only works if you are recognised (and respected), he’s still a Black man, with all the negative connotations of that, as perceived by too many racist police officers. Nonetheless, he cheerfully admitted and joked that his level of fame can get him get him out of what would, for other Black men, be somewhat sticky situations.

I hope there weren’t any teachers in the house, as Mr Rock might have found himself in detention for something of a first … praising school bullies!He ran with this highly original and brilliant train of thought, making a well argued point that many who are bullied at school go on to do amazingly well in life! He cited quite a few high profile names to back up his point. The Face book joke stood out as a shining gem on a night of many diamond encrusted jokes.

Arguably the best section, the centre piece of the show, focused on his marriage break up and lessons learned from it. It was highly personal, extremely funny, yet serious and on point.  I liked the humbling nature of it as he admitted to his own personal failings that brought down his marriage. It was admirable as he blamed nobody but himself and laid himself bare, so to speak, as he proceeded to expand upon his Top 5 keys to a successful marriage. Without giving too much away he made use of a rock band analogy. Essentially explaining that within a marriage, both partners have to be prepared to play any role, from lead guitarist to the person who plays the tambourine. These roles can be reversed at any time, but above all, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts . Judging by the knowing laughter filling the huge venue it was clear that struck just the right note for many in the packed o2 Arena.

There were even some tips for President Barack Obama too! I loved the fact he was using his show to not only deliver wave after wave of feel good laughter, but also to impart a valuable and personal message from the school of hard knocks.

Comfort is The Poison

The backdrop to the set was a huge sign entitled ‘Comfort is the Poison’. This was the message underpinning the show. To find solutions to the problems of racial discrimination, killings of innocent African-American men, knife crime in England, relationship break ups, marital problems, whatever it is you want to change in your life, people have to get uncomfortable, come up with uncomfortable solutions to their problems, be they personal, political, global or criminal. To remain in your comfort zone is to allow the poison seep in, rather than holding it back by pro-actively creating the change you want to see. He didn’t explicitly refer to it  in the show but it was implicit throughout.

Rename the 02 Arena

I think AEG should give consideration to renaming the wonderful 02 Arena … the Q2 Arena as you spend so much time queuing to get in there. Not only that, you queue to collect your tickets, queue to get refreshments and then queue to get the train home afterwards! How about it 02 Arena? The added bonus is it wouldn’t even take much effort or imagination to change the logo! Think about it.

Video Screens

I’ve said this before and it bears repeating again, for what’s billed as the world’s #1 concert venue the 02 Arena really should do a lot better with their use of video screens. Rather than full length images of Chris Rock and the support acts it would have been far better if the screens showed mainly close ups so those furthest away from the stage could clearly make out the performers.

Plus to enhance the experience, the venue should have a lot more screens dotted about the arena that all present can easily view rather than only having the 2-3 screens at the side of the stage.

Netflix World Exclusive

From video screen to the television screen, Tiemo Talk of the Town can exclusively reveal that this show will be available to watch on Netflix on Valentine’s Day.

Finale

It was great that Chris Rock undertook a full UK wide tour taking in many of our big cities, rather than just play London as so many overseas Comedians and bands do.  Moreover, as England is considered the comedy capital of the world it would be great to see more USA stars doing such full tours in the future rather than just a handful of shows.

After 10 years away from these shores this was a triumphant return to the UK for Chris Rock thanks to this brilliant show full of intelligent, serious, joyous, frivolous and uplifting humour.

I don’t know much about Chris Rock’s singing voice, guitar or tambourine playing abilities, but one thing’s for sure, give the man a microphone and he sure knows how to deliver a great stand-up comedy show. Many who saw him on this tour will be hoping he doesn’t wait another decade before returning to perform in the UK.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”  

President Barack Obama

Thank you for reading our review. We hope you enjoyed it and that if you did, will post a comment and/or share it with others who enjoy stand up comedy and may also appreciate the chance to read it and comment. Simply scroll right down to the very end of the page and you’ll find the ‘Comments’ section.

If you wish to receive regular updates as soon as new Blogs are posted or join our mailing list please complete the form below.

 

Posted in Comedy Reviews 2018 | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Rita, Sue and Bob Too Caught in the Act at the Royal Court

Rita, Sue & Bob Too
A Play by Andrea Dunbar
Star Rating: *****
Royal Court
Sloane Square
London SW1
Review Date: 24th January 2018

Where did the time go? Is it really 36 years since Rita, Sue and Bob Too (RSBT) was first performed? It sure is. I have fond memories of watching the film (1987), which was extremely popular at the time. It actually started out as a play at the Royal Court Theatre, back in 1982, so not only was this a real throw back but on top of that, the play returned home this month to the place where it all started.

You may be aware that it very nearly didn’t make it as the Royal Court’s Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone pulled the plug on the show in December 2017 in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein/#MeToo furore. Following a public outcry over this she had a re-think and decided to let the play take to the stage at the Royal Court. It would have been perverse to pull it since it had toured England for months before arriving at the Royal Court. I’m glad she didn’t and the virtually sold out run of the show proves that many theatre goers agree with the decision that the show had to go on. I think that was worthwhile even if just to continue the debate and set in context event of the last few years to those highlighted in this story written back in 1982. Notwithstanding that more serious aspect to things, above all RSBT is a great, vibrant piece of theatre.

RSBT is a rip roaring, high energy play with plenty of laughter, swearing, rowing, emotional turmoil and full on high jinks of a graphic, but often highly amusing nature. We see this throughout in the story about the morally dubious behaviour of best friends Rita (Taj Atwell) and Sue (Gemma Dobson) who end up losing their innocence to married Bob (James Atherton) as he takes them home after they’ve babysat for his children. However he goes via the scenic rout of the Yorkshire Dales and somehow they all take a morally wrong turn on their journey. The graphic nature of some scenes, the frequent profanity and morally repugnant behaviour of the stars of the leading characters in the production at times makes for difficult and uncomfortable viewing. That’s a good thing as it’s a counter balance to the light-hearted, carefree, kick about  nature of much of the first half of the play. It’s also good to have edgy theatre that challenges and takes the viewer out of their comfort zone.

It may have been 36 years old, yet it seemed as fresh and as original as ever. At the time it was ground breaking and decades later I can’t recall any other stories, plays or films quite like this one. Although the behaviour of the principals Rita, sue and Bob is clearly wrong, what starts out as an amusing, high jinks adventure without consequences and long-term prospects starts to turn into something else with far higher stakes in play. We know and Rita, Sue and Bob all know full well there is an innocent wife Michelle (Samantha Robinson) who will be devastated if she finds out what’s going on.

There are a number of unexplored themes such as why Michelle’s lot is the way she is and why Bob seems to detest her so much. Outwardly she appears to be very attractive and attentive so one would wonder why Bob strays. It’s a play from a different era of course, yet some things don’t change. Rita and Sue were 15 year old school girls and they and Bob were sufficiently aware to know that not only was this adultery, but illegal behaviour (on Bob’s part – no pun intended) that carried a criminal conviction if it went to court, due to them being under age. Curiously enough adultery is not illegal, yet it a legal ground for divorce. Strange one that. Where biblical morality, sacred marital vows and the law meet but not all the way! However let’s not go there. This isn’t about the law courts, but a play at the Royal Court.

Those who thought the play should be banned miss the point, the nuance of the play. Strictly and morally speaking it’s of course, all wrong, but, depending on the viewer’s opinion, the girls don’t appear to be entirely innocent ingénues. They are willing participants from the start and Bob barely had to coerce them into doing anything they didn’t want to do. All three start out seeing it as harmless fun with no more ulterior motive than that. Where the play’s dramatic tensions builds and rises, like Bob when he’s in full flow so to speak, is as the wife and parents of the girls begin to wonder what they are up to and work out who they are up to no good with. The tensions and almighty rows between daughter and father; husband and wife, best friends Rita and Sue, show theatre at its vibrant, exciting best.

RSBT is a terrific story and it was great to see it again and be reminding of just how good a story it was. It was written by the late Andrea Dunbar when she was just 18 years old and is superbly acted by all six actors, all of whom have integral parts in the overall story.

RSBT, a joint production with the Royal Court Theatre, Out of Joint and Octagon Theatre Bolton, has a warm, throwback, Northern feel to it. Set in Bradford, Yorkshire, it’s great to hear Northern accents on the London stage and the ‘80’s musical backdrop was a joy to hear and helped place the production firmly in the 1980’s.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

© Photographs courtesy of Richard Davenport and Out of Joint Productions

Rita, Sue and Bob Too can be seen at the Royal Court 9 -27th January 2018, then in Huddersfield, Wales and Glasgow until 17th February 2018. Tickets and further information available from Out of Joint  productions.

Posted in Theatre reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Defiant – Darren Harriott

Defiant – Darren Harriott
Star rating: ****
Soho Theatre
London W1
Review Date: Friday 19th January 2018

19th – 27th January 2018

7.15p.m. Daily. Information and tickets

It’s always a delight to discover new acts on the scene. One such person came to my attention via a recent appearance on Live at the Apollo. Mr Darren Harriott who hails from Birmingham. I was quite impressed and duly went to watch the first night of a run of shows at Soho Theatre.

Darren Harriott

In a show covering a wide range of themes he certainly revealed a lot of information about himself and his views on the world he grew up in. On political matters, we heard that he wasn’t such a huge fan of President Obama – a rarity for a Black man he admitted, as in his own words, “Black people usually give Obama a free pass.” Whilst it’s undoubtedly true that many Black people do give Obama a free pass so to speak, I don’t believe all of it is uncritical. Many will have scrutinised him carefully and based their opinion on that. For starters, if you just compare how he was received and what he achieved, compared to his predecessor George W Bush and the man who followed him as the 45th President of the USA, President Donald Trump, I think most political commentators will say Obama did pretty well during his 8 years in office. President Obama’s tenure was discussed in some detail at a Reach Society President Obama: Tributes, Legacy & Reflections discussion last January 2017.

Defiant is a vibrant, high energy show, full of wickedly surprising punch lines and highly amusing stories. Darren’s personal life, or rather that of the family around him was pretty dramatic to say the least, with many unfortunately caught up on the wrong side of the law. His father met an untimely end (I wont’ say how as you’ll discover that in the show) leaving Darren fatherless at just aged 18 years old. He revealed that as a result he could do with therapy. That’s a bold and frank admission, one of many in the show. I wonder if and when Darren will do so. He joked, as comedians are won’t to do, that he was using the show as therapy. I guess he has found it comforting to find the comedic silver lining to tragic circumstances. Plus he’s utilising some of the experiences which have shaped and impacted his world view to showcase his comedic talent as a Comedian. A case of stand up and carry on or allow circumstances to lead to your downfall.

His personal experience of being a #metoo victim was supportive of the cause, yet pretty hilarious in a self-depracating way.

This ex-doorman turned Comedian put on a super show. It was refreshing to see a fine, young talent from the Midlands making it on the London comedy scene and breaking onto the national scene thanks to his wonderful performance on BBC’s Live at the Apollo.

I don’t know if Darren’s getting many good reviews, but on the strength of this and his TV appearance I suspect he is. I just hope his mum’s cheek’s aren’t too sore from all the “slaps of appreciation” she’s getting! Her son has granted permission to ‘thank her’ for those giving him good reviews. Crickey. If good reviewers are allowed one free slap, the mind boggles as to what bad reviewers are allowed to do. I think Mr Harriott might be in for a few slaps himself when he next goes home to Mum

I suspect though that Darren himself will be getting mainly backslaps of appreciation from his mum and those who’ve seen his show.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Darren Harriott’s ‘Defiant’ runs at Soho Theatre 19th – 27th January 2018.

Posted in Comedy Reviews, Comedy Reviews 2018 | Tagged | Leave a comment

Upfront Comedy with a French Twist

  • Star Rating: ****
  • Tricycle Theatre
  • London NW6
  • Sunday 8th October 2017

Oh la la. A new season of Upfront Comedy got off to bang with something of a French theme, merci beaucoup to Parisienne Arielle Souma and French sounding South Londoner Angie Le Mar performing at the Tricycle Theatre.

The show was superbly compered by Eddie Nestor who regaled the Kilburn audience with tales of getting old, or at least finding out that some people, perish the thought, see him as an older man! I loved the story of him almost getting into a fight over this and not with whom you might expect!

Eddie Nestor

These jokes were interspersed with hilarious stories about the joys and perils of fatherhood, mixed in with everyday realities of living in the capital city. It was an enjoyable the mix of the serious and moving, with the light hearted asides and unexpected punchlines peppering his set and keeping things moving along nicely.

From L-R Eddie Nestor, Angie Le Mar, Arielle Souma & Icy Jones

 

Kilburn lad Icy Jones is a relatively new, raw talent and what he lacked in stand out material he partly made up for with his confident, relaxed stage persona. Some of the jokes about living at home with mother were OK, not the best in genre, but unfortunately all too often his set was spoiled by a level of shocking profanity that was more brutally harsh than funny. Many experienced comedians can carry that off and it’s getting the accent, timing and context right that matters, or doing without it altogether that is the real skill to be worked on. Considering the audience was a more mature crowd it didn’t go down too well and it jarred slightly as otherwise he came across as a good, presentable guy. Icy Jones has potential and he’ll do well to focus more on creating good jokes than shocking people with his swearing and sometimes off key Caribbean accents. 

Arielle Souma got off to a wonderfully topical start with jokes about detention centres, passports and immigration, with a semi-political bent, joking that Brexit’s making it harder for her as a French woman. Arielle Souma is a one woman production line of wickedly saucy jokes. The audience were in hysterics re her, how can we put this, rather unusual and indelicate method of making lemonade to earn a living.

The jokes taking the mic out of British drinking habits such as “getting drunk before 7pm” hit the sweet spot for this audience. Much of her set was quite self-deprecating and worked all the better for this.  She’s clocked the Brits loves nothing better than seeing someone taking themselves down a peg or two! The only other time I’ve seen her was over 2 years ago and I recall writing that she’s definitely one to watch and on this performance she more than proved me right.

She clearly won Eddie over, who despite his initial couldn’t care less attitude to her being from France, “just be funny and make me laugh”, hilariously commented at the end of her set that “her ‘assets’ were as big as his mortgage!”

Angie Le Mar

It was great to see headliner Angie Le Mar and Eddie Nestor teasing one another about their age and longevity in the industry. As with most Stand Up Comedians, they focus on where they are in life and thus, like Eddie, much of Le Mar’s focus was on getting older and the fact she’s reached that age, that when it comes to form filling, equates to ticking the boxes higher up the age categories!

She too was concerned re parenting and life for youngsters in London today. Whilst some of it was quite familiar ground, including the beatings the older generation received “back in the day” versus restrictions upon parenting today, she made a serious point with great humour that there is something to be said for strict parental discipline that doesn’t cross that line into something else.

There was a nice topical gag re the latest Dove advert, although having watched it (see below) I’m not so sure they did cross the line with their latest advert that has caused a little bit of a stink in the last 48 hours resulting in Dove pulling their latest advert. I thought soap firms were meant to clean up a stink not create them! If anything its a rather dry, poor advert, but not really anything to, no pun intended, get all worked up into a lather over! Watch it for yourself and let us know. Though it’s in French, don’t be put off.  The images speak for themselves.

Le Mar referenced the fact it was Black History Month quite frequently and bemoaned the fast food culture and lack of Caribbean cooking old school style, lots of preparation, that seemed to be going on nowadays.

This is Upfront Comedy’s 25th year in business and the show was a fine example of what they’ve been doing since 1992, namely bringing to the stage overseas talent, brand new local talent and mixing it all up with seasoned pro’s. Long may that continue. C’est magnifique.

Review and photos © Tiemo Talk of the Town

Montage pictures courtesy of Countryman &  Leighsa

The next Upfront Comedy Show at Tricycle Theatre is on Sunday 5th November 2017 and stars Judi Love, Kevin J, Special P and Gabriel Ebulue.

Before that, Upfront Comedy are at Wolverhampton Lighthouse on 3rd November 2017 as part of the Funny Things Comedy Festival (23.10.17 to 05.11.17) and The Mac Theatre, Birmingham, on 4th November 2017

 

Posted in Comedy Reviews, Comedy Reviews 2017 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Heads Together for Young Minds Comedy Gala

Heads Together for Young Minds Comedy Gala
Star Rating: *****
Shepherds Bush Empire
London W12

Review Date: 18th September 2017

Early on in proceedings Compere Frank Skinner made a topical, venue related joke about three things dying out in the country. It was a neat, original gag that went down a treat in a packed Shepherds Bush Empire and set the tone for a star studded night of top comedy. Fortunately for ticket holders for this ‘Heads Together – Young Minds’ charity fundraiser/awareness raising show stand up comedy isn’t one of those things dying out. If anything, English comedians are world leading when it comes to stand up comedy.

In a superbly entertaining show the audience were treated to a high calibre show featuring a wide variety of comedic styles from the high energy, hyperactive Russell Kane to the whimsical Tommy Tiernan; clean, highly relatable everyday tales made funny by Michael McIntyre to the rude, crude and witty repartee from Jimmy Carr.

Heads Together is the very high profile campaign fronted by Prince Harry, Prince William and his wife Catherine to get people of all ages and backgrounds talking about mental health.  Young Minds is a charity, as its names implies, focused on getting young people to talk about their mental health.

Considering the subject matter, Russell Kane must be commended as the only act of the night to perform a set predominantly based on the very subject matter of the event. That’s not surprising as his most recent tour was entitled ‘Right Age, Wrong Man’ which was largely centred on his rites of passage journey from boy to man to father. I really, really enjoyed his set, which was by turns, quite literally, as he ran about the stage like a spinning dervish, both extremely amusing and thought provoking. Amongst other things, he joked about men of a certain age being more interested in not laughing, not having a good time and saw that as a one way street to an early death in your 60’s, whereas if they looked at life differently, more optimistically, they could live a happier, healthier life.

Women have it more sorted he said. They talk to one another. They share life experiences. They get real with one another. Men need to talk to one another more and not bottle things up. You could tell he passionately cared about the subject and that earnest energy and commitment really got the message across loud and clear without being overtly preachy. Bravo Russell Kane.

Frank Skinner was similarly on point, though in a less obvious, far more restrained way. I suspect he can’t be asked to run around the stage… though he mentioned losing 1.5 stones at one point and looked pretty trim on it, so he must be doing something right off. He got his point and jokes across in a way that many comedians do by seemingly over sharing about their relationships, the arguments, tensions that go on within them. I say over sharing, but perhaps it shouldn’t be seen as that. How audiences knowingly laugh when he jokes about the furious rows with his girlfriend of 17 years or the dreaded silent treatment.  P.S. Why is it that only women do that? Such was the animosity in his relationship he even feared for his life whilst on a break in Paris, the so called most romantic city in the world. Wow!!

The silent treatment material was responded to, somewhat ironically, with loud laughter all around the vast theatre. The silence is something that I’ve no doubt countless men in long term relationships have endured. Some like naughty Jimmy Carr get particular pleasure when his partner is giving him the ‘silent treatment’! All this was good to hear really, totally and frankly embraced the theme of the night. Talking. Sharing. Oh and of course women need to stop with the silent treatment thing as it’s so off point and un-helpful!

In a way, it’s a good thing that comedians ‘overshare’ as the reason people find it funny is that they identify with their pain and suffering! It normalises it, which is reassuring. Reminds people that they are not alone. Shared laughter can be cathartic. The need to and benefits of talking things through are universal and if anything that was the key message of the show. People need to put their heads together and come up with solutions, not keep their heads apart from one another in silence where problems can fester, resulting in unhappiness which, at worst, can turn into sadness, depression and mental health issues that require psychological treatment.

Canadian Katherine Ryan was on good form and arguably on rather safer terrain, joking about familiar areas of singleness and being a single mum. It was somewhat ironic that I was sat next to two Montreal women who’d timed a 2 week vacation in England deliberately to catch this gig. One was practically choking with laughter during the sets of Michael McIntyre and Tommy Tiernan.

Michael McIntyre

Michael McIntrye was brilliant as usual with an original set finding the funny in everyday life situations. It was quite masterful watching him transform innocuous tales of driving, motorway service stations and men’s toilet etiquette into side hilarious routines.

Irishman Tommy Tiernan was entertaining with physical health related yarns comparing the health of his health with ticker with his dick(er)! As with Kane, he skillfully combined humour with getting across a much needed message about the need for men to take care of their health and not let pride or a busy life stopping them going to the GP to get checked out.

Surprisingly and very sadly for such a talented man, Harry Hill was the big disappointment of the night. Considering the great heights of popularity reached with his TV shows this was a great comedown as, for some reason, he really struggled to connect with the audience. By his standards it’s fair to say it was a shockingly bad performance, woefully short on funny gags. There was a lot of silent, physical movement material that was watchable but alas it just wasn’t that funny. Surreal, character comedy was his former stock in trade before creating hit TV shows, so trying to pull this off on a stand up comedy show starring some of the best in the business was always going to be a tough ask. 

I don’t think Hill has done that much live work and certainly has not done stand up comedy, for years and that was reflected on stage. I’m sure there’s better to come with future performances as he gets his live comedy groove on.
It could have been redeemed by the finale singing ‘My Way’ but for some bizarre reason he chose to sing it backwards. Kind of impressive, but somewhat pointless and irrelevant. Nonetheless it was the best bit of his show and in fact sung normally it would have made for a lovely close to the whole show as it actually sounded really good. The 02 Empire is more used to concerts so that’s not surprising. It was noticeable that most performers said that this was their first time performing there.

Jimmy Carr

As it was, we had Jimmy Carr closing the show with a quality set of rapid fire gags that as always, didn’t just cross the line, but ran right past it leaving it well out of sight! The audience lapped it up.

Considering the evening was about encouraging young people to talk about mental health it was a missed opportunity to not hear from one or two young people about how they had benefited from talking about their mental health and/or at least have representatives from Heads Together and Young Minds taking to the stage to talk about their work. Furthermore, in a night targeting young minds it might have been nice to at least include one young, 20 something comedian on the bill. Notwithstanding that, this was an outstanding night of high class comedy for a very worthy cause. It was fitting and poignant that Frank Skinner closed the night with a personal account of losing a family member to a mental health condition. I’m sure if enough well meaning people put their heads together his show can be repeated again for the benefit of our young and not so young alike.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links:

  1. Heads Together – website
  2. Young Minds –  website
  3. It’s Good to Talk – Tackling the Male Suicide Crisis

Heads Together

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are spearheading the Heads Together campaign to end stigma around mental health. Heads Together aims to change the national conversation on mental health and wellbeing, and is a partnership with inspiring charities with decades of experience in tackling stigma, raising awareness, and providing vital help for people with mental health challenges.

 

There has been huge progress made to tackle stigma surrounding mental health in recent decades, but it still remains a key issue driven by negative associations, experience and language. Through this campaign, Their Royal Highnesses are keen to build on the great work that is already taking place across the country, to ensure that people feel comfortable with their everyday mental wellbeing, feel able to support their friends and families through difficult times, and that stigma no longer prevents people getting help they need.

Young Minds

The Young Minds charity exists so that young people have the strongest possible voice in improving their mental health. We need your help to make sure that voice is heard.

We champion children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing across the UK. Driven by their experience we create change so that children and young people can cope with life’s adversities, find help when needed and succeed in life.

Young Minds: Our Goals

  1. To keep ourselves focused and on track, we’ve set out 4 key strategic aims:
  2. Foster innovation to meet the needs of vulnerable and excluded children and young people.
  3. Promote good mental health to more children and young people than ever before.
  4. Champion the voices of young people and parents to influence mental health policy and practice.
  5. Inspire excellence to achieve transformed, integrated services.

 

Posted in Comedy Reviews 2017, Health and well being, Men and Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment