Winner of the 2004 Leicester Mercury comedian of the year competiiton
Matt And Ben Are At It Again
Even rarer than a Scottish comedian at the Edinburgh Fringe is a Leicester comic at the Leicester Comedy Festival... yet here we have two on the same show.
First up was frizzy-haired Ben Ennis, who says his biggest claim to fame to date is being Leicester City’s Filbert The Fox mascot between 2000 and 2003.
Football’s still clearly a passion, as he describes what it’s like to support two teams at once by making the analogy between having a wife and a lover. From that premise come many jokes, generated by formula, admittedly, but effectively delivered.
That’s the essence of most of his set, which can seem like an academic exercise in comedy writing, rather than anything more instinctual. For example: Imagine if the Dragons’ Den panel were really dragons, being pitched by other mythical creatures, then see what comes out.
Yet he packs the jokes in – some obvious, some more tricksy – which combined with his amiable, unprepossessing persona makes for an entertaining 20 minutes, despite the obvious limitations. But he’s a perfectly fine warm-up act.
Matt Hollins won this festival’s new comedian of the year competition in 2004, the year after Rhod Gilbert, and – wow - look at him now. Playing a school night above an Indian restaurant.
But the fact he’s not a star rather suits his dour, hangdog style. For it’s that personality, more than the material, that makes the act. The disappointment in routines that have downbeat endings, as well as the state of his life in general is what is funny. He’s single, sex-starved and petty, with a quiver of tales of disappointment, ranging from having to travel on the bus, staying at hostels, and working in a biscuit factory.
You might call him an anti-comedian, although he doesn’t labour the fact he hasn’t any jokes. He does, in fact, possess punchlines, even though some of them date back years, and they rarely land squarely. And when they do, he’ll add a note of remorse that they could have done better.
Every day is a slog for this odd cove. Not a tragic emotional struggle, just drizzle through his soul. His routine is suitably listless, and at times frustratingly so, but at his heart he possesses an everyday misery in the Tony Hancock vein which, with more constant work, could gel into a very appealing set.
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