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|What have you stolen?|
Ealing Comedy Festival 2011: Wednesday
In a calendar packed with comedy festivals, Ealing’s has a relatively low profile. Yet its line-up is stellar, and it packs out a 1,000-seater marquee over five nights in a West London park - so it’s an event not to be ignored.
The festival reached its midway point in last night’s rain, with the ever-impressive Jarred Christmas compering. The Kiwi’s fast and emphatic delivery instantly establishes that he’s in charge, but he comes with such a cheeky, curious and endearingly playful attitude that means he’s never going to be serious authority figure. After all, he’s the sort of man-child who can say: ‘I was googling “ninja moves”...’ without any sense of self-consciousness, just part of another enthusiastically-told anecdote.
First of the acts is professional Northerner Paul Tonkinson, a favourite booking of this festival, with his wry commentary on married life and North vs South stereotypes. There are no great revelations, but it’s nicely observed and beautifully illustrated with a wide repertoire of subtly silly comedy voices. The man’s a one-man Simpsons cast as he brings to life the likes of his effete, sexually ambiguous ski instructor or a menacing South London laugh. At his best, he reduces a marital argument to meaningless sounds, prompting lots of chuckles of domestic recognition.
Fresh from Latitude come Ireland’s ‘seventh biggest hip-hop crew’ Abandoman, with their crowd-pleasing improvised raps; first the ‘What’s In Your Pocket’ routine, basing lyrics on items the audience hold up, then the made-up musical, composed around the circumstances of ‘Stoney’ – a London Underground escalator engineer plucked from the crowd. Rap purists might spot an overuse of filler line such as ‘that’s right/you know’ to make the rhymes fit, but the duo’s frontman Rob Broderick is quick-thinking and occasionally inspired in fusing ideas together.
Next up a ‘special guest who can’t be named’ – which used to mean comedy royalty, but these days can mean anyone who’s been on TV a bit and doesn’t want to hurt their forthcoming tour sales. Tonight it meant Lee Nelson, and I don’t think the demographic of the tent quite matched up with the demographic of the unbilled comedy chav’s BBC Three audience, given that mention of sidekick Omelette clearly didn’t receive the cheer he was expecting. In fact, there seemed some sluggishness in realising this excitable rude boy was a character. That, and the sheer size of this marquee, meant that some of his audience banter was robbed of its exciting piquancy, though Nelson’s creator Simon Brodkin is still as sharp as a tack.
There are some great jokes in his tales of casual sex and equally casual misogyny, although elsewhere, especially in his take on hosting the Olympics in East London, he treads on very cliched territory, not always with sharp enough writing to excuse it. And this is clearly a work in progress – as occasional glances at notes on a bar stool attest – so isn’t quite as fluent or concise at it could be. But Nelson’s still entertaining, with life in the old Burberry yet.
For our headliner, we leaping a few strata up the social scale, with the urbane Stephen K Amos. He hasn’t always been that way, however, and he gets much mileage out of his down-to-earth upbringing at the hands of his no-nonsense parents, and their catchphrase: ‘Shut up, bastard.’
The ‘back-in-my-day’ nostalgia, before iPods and mobiles, defines his attitude that the youth of today don’t know they are born. He even brings up a crew of teenagers to prove his point... and from the moment this segment starts, you know it’s going to be a countdown until the phrase ‘boy band’ is deployed. But however predictable the conclusion was, Amos’s forte is interacting with people (a facet his recent BBC Two show failed to exploit), and he created plenty of free-form fun along the way.
He ended the set with a couple of examples of racism directed his way, primarily from Australia, but he reacts not with fury, but with a charismatic roll of the eyes that anyone could be so dim. After all, Amos is nothing if not charming every moment he is on stage.
|Date of live review: Thursday 21st Jul, '11|
Review by Steve Bennett
Tuesday 24th Aug, '10-
Tuesday 27th Jan, '09-
Show - Edinburgh Fringe 2008 -
Talentess hack who stole his act off Devvo, removed it of any substance and waterered it down to suit some cokehead TV execs hoping they could market him as the new Ali G. Don't know how this man can sleep at night.
I have put Lee Nelson on with Harry Hill several times at Monkey Business because I always knew that this excellent performer had star quality. I have been proved right. Simon Brodkin aka Lee Nelson is also a very nice guy
Went to see him live last night at the Bloomsbury Theatre London and the show on the BBC ain't got a stitch on the live show. He made it what it was front the moment the curtains went up no matter what these reviews say you must go see him roll on series 2 and so on and so on LMFAO all night long
What a bunch of idiots! Lee nelson is sharp, quick witted and produces some very funny comedy! I thought his live show was hilarious and his tv show, whilst not overly original was excellent!
Is Lee Nelson having a laugh,cos I'm not. He's total crap. How does he get away with it? I wouldn't go to see him if the tickets were free.
Saw him compare the best of the fest show at the Edinburgh fringe last night. He was by far the best thing about the show – brilliant audience interaction. Will be going to see him on his own at the earliest opportunity.
This show is amazing, its' just not as good as porn
Actually in shock it got on telly
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