wed 28/09/2022

Comedy reviews, news & interviews

Kim Noble, Soho Theatre review - final part of trilogy about loneliness

Veronica Lee

A dead pigeon. A dead squirrel. A dead fox. Lots of maggots – very much alive. I might be describing your worst nightmare (throw in a rat or two and it would be very close to mine) but this array of wildlife forms an important part in Kim Noble's latest show, Lullaby for Scavengers. I warn you, it takes a strong stomach to sit through it – and I have to confess I had to shield my eyes at several points. The show comes with a content warning for a reason.

Rob Rouse, Rewind the Fringe review - unstructured but gleeful fun

Veronica Lee

It's a pleasure to see Rob Rouse back doing standup, as these days he's as well known for his acting – he plays the idiot savant Bottom in BBC's Upstart Crow, the theatre version of which is opening shortly in the West End after its 2020 premiere run was truncated by Covid.

Dave Edinburgh Comedy Awards 2022

Veronica Lee

The Dave Edinburgh Awards went abroad this year – Australian Sam Campbell won for best show at the Fringe, while American Lara Ricote won best...

Edinburgh Fringe 2022 reviews: Joseph Parsons /...

Veronica Lee

Joseph Parsons, The Mash House ★★★Joseph Parsons is wearing a Bristol City shirt for Equaliser, which is about being a gay man who loves...

Edinburgh Fringe 2022 reviews: Jake Lambert /...

Veronica Lee

Jake Lambert, Pleasance Courtyard ★★★★Jake Lambert warms up the audience by describing how much he enjoyed lockdown (despite a relationship...

Edinburgh Fringe 2022 reviews: Hal Cruttenden / Zach Zucker / The Delightful Sausage

Veronica Lee

Divorce the nice way, Las Vegas showtime, and an hour of silliness

Edinburgh Fringe 2022 reviews: Randy Feltface / Sarah Keyworth / Andrew Maxwell

Veronica Lee

A puppet tells it like it is, an outbreak of silliness and political gags

Edinburgh Fringe 2022 reviews: Ania Magliano / Leo Reich / Chloe Petts

Veronica Lee

Bisexuality, a stunning debut, and acting like a lad

Edinburgh Fringe 2022 reviews: Sara Barron / Jayde Adams / Sophie Duker

Veronica Lee

Scathing judgments, expressive dance and lesbian cruises

Edinburgh Fringe 2022 reviews: Kiri Pritchard-McLean / Lou Sanders / Snort

Veronica Lee

Exploring Welsh identity; rollerskating diaries; New Zealand improv

Edinburgh Fringe 2022 reviews: Colin Hoult / Nick Helm / Susie McCabe

Veronica Lee

A sad adieu, a pandemic experience and the awfulness of hen dos

Edinburgh Fringe 2022 reviews: Tiff Stevenson / Seann Walsh / Rosie Holt

Veronica Lee

The world's biggest and best arts festival begins

Sikisa, Soho Theatre review - a confident debut

Veronica Lee

Gags range from dick pics to feminism and immigration law

Joe Lycett, Eventim Apollo review - prankster goes long-form

Veronica Lee

Former Sewing Bee host tells a complicated tale

Ricky Gervais, SuperNature, Netflix review - a provocateur at work

Veronica Lee

An equal opportunities offender delivers a masterclass in meta comedy

Andy Zaltzman, Soho Theatre review - satire on the hoof

Veronica Lee

Setting the world to rights, one joke at a time

Brandon Wardell, Soho Theatre review - US comic wings it

Veronica Lee

UK debut show is disjointed and uneven

Stratagem With Alan Partridge, touring review - he's back as a lifestyle guru

Veronica Lee

Steve Coogan's creation doesn't quite hit the spot

Shaparak Khorsandi, touring review - sex, drugs and rock'n'roll

Veronica Lee

The 90s viewed from afar

String v SPITTA, Soho Theatre review - rival children's entertainers battle it out

Veronica Lee

Old school versus the TikTok generation

Katherine Ryan, London Palladium review - a softer comic emerges

Veronica Lee

With enough barbs to keep it pleasingly sharp

Catherine Bohart, Soho Theatre review - anatomy of a break-up

Veronica Lee

Honest appraisal of losing in love

Sarah Millican, Winter Gardens, Margate review - enjoyable filth

Veronica Lee

Comic is unflinchingly honest about body functions

Matt Forde: The Political Party review - topical stand-up and chat

Veronica Lee

Live recording of podcast with guest Angela Rayner

Nish Kumar, Soho Theatre review - how a bad gig turned into a terrific show

Veronica Lee

The story behind the headlines

Alan Carr, Milton Keynes Theatre review - comic keeps it relentlessly light

Veronica Lee

But real life overtakes art

Russell Howard, Netflix special review - joyous return to live performance

Veronica Lee

Stand-up with accompanying documentary

One-Woman Show review - Liz Kingsman's spot-on spoof

Veronica Lee

Comic does a deep dive into Fleabag territory

Best of 2021: Comedy

Veronica Lee

One masterpiece, and a celebration of the great outdoors

Footnote: a brief history of British comedy

British comedy has a honourable history, dating back to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, through Shakespeare’s and Restoration plays to Victorian and Edwardian music hall and its offspring variety, and on to Monty Python’s Flying Circus, working-men’s clubs, 1980s alternative comedy, and today's hugely popular stand-up acts in stadiums seating up to 20,000 people.

In broadcast media, the immediate decades after the Second World War marked radio’s golden age for comedy, with shows such as ITMA, The Goons, Round the Horne and Beyond Our Ken. Many radio comedy shows transferred to even greater acclaim on television - such as Hancock’s Half Hour, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Knowing Me, Knowing You, The Day Today, Red Dwarf, The League of Gentlemen, Goodness Gracious Me and Little Britain.

In television, the 1970s and 1980s were the great age of British sitcom, when shows such as Steptoe and Son, Till Death Us Do Part, Rising Damp, Dad’s Army, Porridge, Yes, Minister, Only Fools and Horses, Fawlty Towers and Blackadder. They were marked by great writing, acting and directing, although the time should also be noted for great British dross such as On the Buses and Love Thy Neighbour.

By the 1990s, British sitcom had developed into intelligent über-comedy, with shows such as Absolutely Fabulous and The Office making dark or off-kilter (although some would say bad taste) shows such as Drop the Dead Donkey, Peep Show, Green Wing and The Inbetweeners possible. In film, British comedy has had three great ages - silent movies (Charlie Chaplin being their star), Ealing comedies (Passport to Pimlico perhaps the best ever) and Carry On films. The first are in a long tradition of daft physical humour, the second mark the dry sophistication of much British humour, and the last the bawdiness that goes back to Chaucer.

The 2000s marked the resurgence of live comedy, with acts (including Jimmy Carr, Peter Kay and Russell Howard) honing their talents at successive Edinburgh Fringes and their resulting TV, stadium tour and DVD sales making millionaires of dozens of UK comics. Comedians cross readily from TV to stand-up to film to West End comedy theatre. The British comedy industry is now a huge and growing commercial business, with star comics such as Peter Kay and Michael McIntyre grossing tens of millions of pounds from arena tours, and attendances of up to 20,000 at venues across the UK.

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