Look Black in Laughter

Look Black in Laughter *** 3/5

Hackney Empire

London E8

2nd September 2012

The stars of yesteryear and today gathered for one night only for a nostalgic trip down memory lane at Hackney Empire.

The show formed part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Festival and was backed by London 2012. Paulette Randall was Associate Producer of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies and also counts The Real McCoy, Desmonds (pictured below with Carmen Monroe and Norman Beaton), Pork Pie and The Crouches (second series) amongst her credits.

Respected comedy actors such as Rudolph Walker, Ellen Thomas, Dona Croll and Judith Jacob, were joined on stage by today’s stand up comedy stars Slim (Best Male Comedian 2012 Tiemo Black Comedy Awards), Curtis Walker, Glenda Jaxson and Felix Dexter.
This provided a platform for the audience to enjoy video footage from old favourites such as ‘Love thy Neighbour’, ‘Desmonds’, The A Force, ‘The Real McCoy’, ‘3 Non-Blondes and ‘Little Miss Jocelyn’.
There were on stage interviews with Rudolph Walker (below) and Kate Williams from love thy neighbour .

Sketch shows
The audience enjoyed sketches from the Bibi Crew and The Posse. The night was expertly and humorously compered by BBC Radio London Broadcaster, Actor and Comedian Eddie Nestor. Eddie was supported by young comedian, Jimmy Akinbala. 

Time please
The show suffered from being too disjointed, jumping from sketches and acts of variable quality, from the very funny Slim and Curtis Walker (pictured below) to the ‘3 Non-Blondes’. Curtis Walker headlined the show yet, through no fault of his own, left the audience terribly short changed by only doing about 10 minutes due to serious over running of the night, which ate into his time. That was a big disappointment and there’s really no excuse for a show scheduled for a 7.30pm start to still be running at 11.15pm. Especially on a Sunday night. Marathon’s are run in far less time than this!

The show would have been far better with less acts. Less  time could have been allocated to poor quality sketches such as the  the 3 Non-Blondes who were given 15 minutes for a ridiculous and humourless sketch re the ‘Big Breast’ African woman. The sketch featured Jocelyn Jee Esien, Ninia Benjamin and Tameka Empson. The combined comedic talents of this trio should have been able to produce a far funnier sketch. Disappointing.

More live singing on the night would have been good. We had the talented lovers rock stars Janet Kay and Victor Romero Evans on stage and it was a waste  not to have them break up the comedy with a song or two. It should be noted that Victor was extremely  funny, providing one of the night’s highlight’s with his portrayal of a drunken man’s ‘relationship’ with alcohol . Brilliantly acted, funny, insightful and thought provoking all at the same time.

The Real McCoy
Eddie Nestor and Leo Muhammad (pictured below) both alluded to the fact that the much loved 90’s show they both starred in; ‘The Real McCoy’ simply wasn’t coming back. The truth is that, by now, with the talented Black writers out there, numerous hit shows should have been written, produced and broadcast, that would have made the pining for The Real McCoy’s return utterly un-necessary. This was a theme visited at ‘The Real McCoy’ 21st anniversary re-union I attended and  reviewed in April 2012.

Perhaps the future is bypassing TV with writers and producers making more on-line shows such as the ground-breaking ‘Another Black Girl’ (USA) and London’s ‘Brothers with no game‘ comedy series. An excellent article was published in The Guardian, July 2012 regarding Black British drama. 

It still beggars belief that the BBC have not re-broadcast repeats of ‘The Real McCoy’or released a DVD of the series They’d have made a fortune. One of life’s great mysteries. Strange.
It was great to go down memory lane and see various clips from old episodes featuring a slimmer Eddie Nestor, Leo Muhammad and Robbie Gee.
Lenny Henry

Funny clips of comedy legend Lenny Henry were shown from his appearances in ‘The fosters’ and ‘The Lenny Henry Show’. As one of the stalwarts of TV comedy it would have been great to have seen him interviewed on stage or even on video. It’s a pity he wasn’t.

Raving Black Women
The show featured just one stand up comedienne, Glenda Jaxson, who, (notwithstanding DJ-technical hitches early on), amused the audience with her recollections of raving back in the day. Why just the sole female stand up was booked was a shame. Comedienne’s often complain re getting overlooked in favour of their male counterparts when it comes to bookings, yet this event directed and produced by women, Paulette Randall and Sarah Moore, only booked one comedienne to deliver a stand up comedy set.

The show enabled the audience to ‘look Black in laughter’ at the TV shows, actors and stand up comedians who have been tickling audiences funny bones for the past 40 years.
In April 2012, with its Black Comedy Awards for stand up comedy, Tiemo Entertainments honoured and paid tribute to not just the stand up comedians of today, but also ensured the  audience received a comedic history lesson, with its acknowledgement of some of the stand up comedians and TV shows remembered tonight, that paved the way for others to breakthrough.
This show was funny, insightful and light-hearted and importantly and above all carried on where Tiemo left of, honouring and showing respect to so many well known performers, upon whose successes so many comedians and actors owe a debt of gratitude to.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

16th September 2012

Video footage from the show courtesy of Vox Africa.

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