Star rating: ***
Saturday 11th February 2017
Ahead of making only her second stand up comedy performance in England after a 33 year absence* it was understandable that Whoopi Goldberg might have been a little apprehensive about doing so at one of London’s grandest stages, the London Palladium. I’m pretty sure any apprehension would have evaporated within minutes of appearing on stage as she took in a raucously loud and passionate standing ovation. It was certainly one of the most warmly given greetings I’ve ever come across and the first time I’ve known someone to get a standing ovation before they’ve even told their first joke!!
After the audience settled down she rapidly got into her stride, explaining that she was inspired to do this show, the first of two in one night, by her late mother, who passed away when she was performing ‘Sister Act the Musical’ at the London Palladium in August 2010. She said her mum would have wanted her to return to this very stage again and make her proud.
In a show of two halves, the first 30 minutes was taken up with a fine set of stand up comedy. There was topical political material – a little bit of Trump and Brexit as you might expect. Whilst she didn’t go in too hard on her new President, there was a delicious one liner towards the end of the show when the audience were showing her a whole lot of love. “I really hope you do love me you know, as you never know, the way things are going they might not let me back in and I might be on the next flight back to London!”
She thanked the British women and indeed women all over the world who marched in solidarity against President Trump on 21st January 2017, the day after his inauguration ceremony. She felt touched by that show of solidarity and was passing on the thanks of American women – “They sent me to thank you!”
There was plenty of quite near the knuckle humour too. She joked re the effect the ageing process had on her never regions and how she was once the hottest comedian in the world, but now she’s only the hottest woman in the room because of the hot flushes brought on by the menopause!
The second half of the show, well almost an hour so more like 2/3 of the show was taken up with pre-submitted audience questions. This offered Whoopi the opportunity to regale the audience with anecdotes relating to children, being a young mother, young grandmother and Oscar winning actress.
I loved the story of what happened to her after she reacted to a 5 year old boy annoying her on a train journey. There were some weird and funny questions thrown out – e.g. “If you could remake any of your films which would you do?” She struggled to think of one that she would do again. As people shouted out films titles it was a real trip down memory lane as you recalled all her films – ‘The Colour Purple’, ‘Sister Act I, II and III’, ‘Ghost’ etc… An audience member piped in saying they were all perfect and couldn’t be improved on, so she went with that, which was a good call.
Another asked her if she was made into a soup what sort of soup would she be? She delicately sidestepped that one!
All in all this was a very enjoyable night with an African-American legend of stand up comedy and film. She received a standing ovation at the end, making it an astonishing two in one night. That comedy stalwarts Helen Lederer and Adam Hills were in attendance at the first and second shows respectively was further evidence of Whoopi’s stature in the field of Stand up comedy. Her mum would have been proud. I hope it’s not so long before Whoopi Goldberg returns to perform again in the UK.
Review and Photographs © Tiemo Talk of the Town
* – See comment below for details on Whoopi Goldberg’s first ever UK stand up show in May 1984.
- Black-ish is the Nouveau Black – Hit US Sitcom – Black-ish – 23rd January 2017
- Are we entering a Brave new World that’s Black and British? – 22nd January 2017
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