Laughter In Odd Places

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

The quirky bookshops and independent record stores of London must have been deserted last night, as around 700 fans of the most fashionable types of idiosyncratic comedy gathered at the Museum of London for the latest – and biggest – Laughter In Odd Places gathering.

The setting might not be an obvious one for comedy. Comedians as museum pieces suggest a night of Davidson-like dinosaurs. But with acts such as Stewart Lee, Simon Munnery and Paul Sinha not afraid to bare their intelligence in their stand-up, these galleries proved remarkably apt. Plenty of punters mulled around the exhibits between the sets, showing the sort of curiosity that presumably led them to this sort of artistically motivated comedy in the first place.

The gig was arranged as a mini-festival; four stages each with three acts starting and finishing at the same time. But unlike a festival, wandering between sets didn’t seem to be the done thing. You make your choice, and stick with it.

First port of call for me was the Mandela Room… a makeshift performance area in front of a display of the great man’s 1962 visit to London. Luke Roberts and Nadia Kamil – the pair responsible for Greatly Progressive Behemoth – delivered a suitably quirky and smart set to the sizeable audience of cross-legged disciples. These two youngsters are suitably bright, funny and original for this crowd.

Then on to Bridget Christie, anachronistically performing her Charles II shtick in the medieval room. It’s here one problem of the night became obvious – it was so popular that many of the rooms were oversubscribed. I’ve never tried to watch stand-up through a display case of ancient river defences before – and I can’t particularly recommend it. Christie also baffled a lot of the audience with her obtuse approach, but a daft song at the end won them round.

Finally, the gang show shenanigans of Pappy’s Fun Club – or at least three-quarters of them, Tom Parry being otherwise engaged - offering 20 minutes of sparkling new material. They’d even produced a delightfully daft skit about the Great Fire Of London to fit the exhibit they were expecting to perform in. Only they ended up at the Mandela display, too.

Others taking part over the night included Richard Herring, Edward Aczel, Jo Neary and Wilson Dixon – the only disappointment being that you couldn’t reasonably see more than three acts in this impressive line-up.

But Laughter In Odd Places is such a good idea, and attracting such healthy numbers, the Museum Of London would surely want them back.

And for comedy fans, more important than exactly which sets you do and don’t get to see, is the feeling that this is a convivial meeting of like-minded souls; a genuinely cheerful celebration of thoughtful-but-funny comedy that’s as far from the laddish aggression and hen-party shrieking of a corporate club as you could hope to imagine. Hoorah for comedic diversity!

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
July 4, 2008

Review date: 4 Jul 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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