Addy Van Der Borgh
An Audience With Peter
Angie Le Mar
Anthony J Brown
At The Cracker Comedy Festival, Sydney
More Al Pitcher videos
|At The Cracker Comedy Festival, Sydney|
|Al Pitcher Idiot Wind|
New Zealander Al Pitcher started comedy in 1999, reaching the finals of the So You Think You’re Funny? new talent competition. He then decided to capitalise on his growing reputation – by becoming a vegetable picker in Naas, Ireland. A couple of years later he returned to stand up, making the final of the Daily Telegraph Open Mic awards.
Since then he has become a regular fixture at the UK’s top clubs. In 2004 he made his solo Edinburgh fringe debut, and now has four full-length shows to his name.
He was invited to appear at Montreal’s prestigious Just for Laughs Festival in 2007 and has performed at both the Melbourne and New Zealand comedy festivals.
Pitcher was also the voice of the Fosters Lager commercials, has written for BBC Radio 1 and is an experienced TV warm-up.
Just For Laughs Comedy Store showcase
Always an odd gig, this one, with no compere and well-established acts compressing their usual 20 minutes or so into a tight eight – all the while trying to impress the talent-spotters from Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival. Not that this Comedy Store gig is quite an audition, either, more than a chance for the Canadians to get an holistic feel for who’s doing well rather than a night with a definite ‘you’re hired!’ conclusion.
Opening act Gary Delaney did his best to try to explain all this – and execute the quickest bit of audience warm-up known to man – without eating too much into his allocated time. Normally with comedians who peddle one-liners, the concern is ‘well, it’s funny.. but I don’t know how much more I could bear.’ But with Delaney’s smart, sometimes edgy, punchlines, his set was over far too soon. His cheeky delivery, cracking up at his own silliness, makes these easy to listen to, and the twists are almost always unforeseeable.
Benny Boot has an appealing quirkiness, too. His opening, in which he pulled back the curtain to explain stand-up is actually scripted, missed the mark – not helped by his nasal delivery and too-deliberate nervous wriggles around the mike stand. But the bulk of the material is strong indeed, whether he’s describing fiendishly inventive pranks or making obtuse, almost surreal, observations, this Australian has a keen sense of the absurd.
With his consummate rap skills, Doc Brown is the perfect entertainer. His track about everyone being racist is a fairly straightforward take on the ‘is it cos I is black?’ style of victim culture – but the lyrics are slick and the performance faultless. In his allotted time he could only hint at the dichotomy of his life – as a now middle-class nerd who ‘rolls with rappers’, although he’s previously proved how rich a comic vein that is.
Swedish-based, English-born, New-Zealand raised Al Pitcher is a fairly broad storytelling type of comedian, with engaging, although not fascinating, stories of train and plane travel – and a few national traits. For my taste, it’s not substantive enough, but most of the audience would probably disagree, based on their easy laughs. And it can’t be denied that he can come up with the occasional analogy that’s just perfect.
One of James Mullinger’s earliest gigs was at Just For Laughs in 2005, as he wrote a feature as part of his day job at GQ. Seven years later, and it’s hard to see him among the best of the internationals who make it to Montreal, with a set that’s noticeable short on laughs. He generates a lot of noise, mainly thanks to a forceful, even loudmouth, delivery and a lot of ‘any drinkers in?!’-style soliciting of cheers. But the writing is long-winded, and too often uses a tone of high-pitched incredulity in place of a punchline. Thank god for the man clumsily falling off his chair in the front row, as Mullinger dealt with that deftly enough in a moment that made him more human than the act did.
Next up, freaky Paul Savage, who did prove more successful with those sections of the audience not put off by his random stream-of-consciousness style, in which every statement is instantly negated with a ‘not really’, ‘I haven’t’ ‘You can’t’ or ‘They didn’t’. But it’s pretty infuriating to have contradiction in place of payoffs. Away from this nonsense, there are a couple of actual gags, which proved stronger, and the closing song about his exes had a certain charm than surpassed the cat-in-a-blender vocal style.
After the interval, Keith Farnan with his self-confessed ‘twinkly Irish bollocks’, although his crowd-pleasing material about his homeland and its economic chaos didn’t boast the insight of which he has previously proved capable. But lines proposing himself as a supreme being, and his take on women’s image issues, provide a potent, and funny, mix of the intelligent and the silly.
On the strength of his impressive routine, you wouldn’t want to be married to Josh Howie, who portrays himself as a petty, angry man hell-bent on proving himself right, no matter what. Fortunately these antisocial characteristics make comedy gold, and his recollection of the simmering tensions over an ante-natal hospital trip with his wife is skilfully constructed, as he reruns all the annoyances from his side of the argument, well-paced to winkle out plenty of laughs of recognition.
You could spot John Lynn’s voice anywhere – a strangulated Irish brogue with long lazy voweeeels that put any word on the rack. His tales concern him being an ex-teacher, being in a bad marriage or picking up his drunk missus, which he acts out with all-too believable conviction. However, the content is otherwise slight, and sometimes predictable, which means the languid approach is a bit of a patience-tester.
Ian Stone is a much sharper operator, with a focus on getting the gags out as efficiently as possible. They start with some cynical quickies about his Jewish background and the Middle East situation, which he’s been performing for long enough to be perfectly honed (even while relying on familiar stereotypes) before moving on to an inherently funny Twitter exchange between the Dalai Lama and ‘Sheffield Tony’, with just enough embellishment to make it sparkle.
Tony Law’s meta-comedy madness blasts through the room like an Artic wind, refreshing but disorientating. His material piles on the cheese, while his ceaseless commentary on the artifice of his prepared material is an appealing combination of comedy in-jokes and self-referential oddness. He describes himself as a maverick nut bar – and it would be hard to disagree.
To wind up, a more gentle storytelling approach from Elis James, living up to the cliché of the lyrical Welshman. After a couple of ice-breakers about the Welsh language, his mother tongue, he regaled with a story about a wedding party incident that had ambitions of Dirty Dancing, but ended up more You’ve Been Framed. It’s a slight story, and gentler than the last couple of acts, but James is charm personified, and it’s a warmly satisfying end to a packed night.
|Date of live review: Wednesday 22nd Feb, '12|
Review by Steve Bennett
Saturday 16th Oct, '10- Brighton Dome
Thursday 5th Nov, '09- Bloomsbury Theatre
Show - Edinburgh Fringe 2007 -
Show - Edinburgh Fringe 2003 -
Show - Edinburgh Fringe 2004 -
Show - Edinburgh Fringe 2006 -
Show - Montreal 2007 -
Saw his Picture Show at Lincoln, found him very funny. Highly recommended
Saw his Picture Show, found him funny and engaging and genuinely offers a very unique show that the audience can feel very much part of. Laughs aplenty :)
The Al Pitcher Picture Show is absolutely brilliant. I didn't stop laughing for hours! Go and see him if you get the chance!
Saw him last night in Darlington with the 'Al Pithcer Picture Show' absolutely loved it. I go to a lot of comedy shows and this was one of the best that i have seen! I'll definitely be going to see him again next time he is in the North East,
Great show with a cracking concept that can be taken to any town or city - highly recommended
Went to Al Pitcher: Idiot Wind in Sydney last night. Was wicked to see a comedian having fun and interacting with the crowd. Highly recommended
Saw his tour show in Harrogate, thought it was brilliant, the crowd loved it. Will see him again.
I laughed shitloads at this guy
|My first fringe was so tough, I was crying in public
20 questions: Al Pitcher
25/08/2007 Permanent link
Daily Telegraph Open Mic Award Final
Edinburgh Fringe 2002
Big Value Comedy Club (Late)
Edinburgh Fringe 2003
The Comedy Zone
Edinburgh Fringe 2004
Edinburgh Fringe 2005
Al Pitcher: The Wolf Catcher
Edinburgh Fringe 2006
The Al Pitcher Experience
Edinburgh Fringe 2007
Al Pitcher: Idiot Wind
Midnight @ The Tron
Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Al Pitcher: Tiny Triumphs
Late Nite Down Under 2007
The Al Pitcher Picture Show