Stand-Up: The Musical

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

If you're thinking this is going to be an all-singing, all-dancing tale about the life of a stand-up, think again. That avenue still remains open to a forward-thinking West End impressario.

In fact, this is, just a fairly straightforward mix of comedy and music, with the three acts involved combining their talents in a band, while each having the chance to showcase their stand-up routines solo, too.

The pretence is that this trio are a famous band, Love Action, complete with chart-topping hits, petty rivalries and prickly press conferences.

As an idea, the show's got a lot working against it. Like many musical acts, it relies heavily on one joke extending to a three-minute song, like the weak parody of a Christmas No 1, and they even decided to do a straight cover of the cheesy classic Seasons In The Sun, which becomes their theme tune.

The stand-up, too, is a mixed bag and, despite the team's best efforts to shoehorn their best routines into the pop-band format, it doesn't necessarily make for a consistent show.

John Ross is a terse, deadpan act - whose uncommunicative demeanour naturally casts him as the drummer - and regales the audience with slightly surreal tales of board games. Reasonably funny, but only marginally in keeping with the show's ethos.

In style, Allen Chalmers style fits better. A 'fat poof', and proud of it, he's a very accomplished musical comedian who remains behind the keyboard for his solo slot: a witty comparison of heterosexual and homosexual lounge-bar piano playing, and a sprightly version of Bohemian Rhapsody played in treble-quick time. Mention must also be made of the magnificent pouty flounce he effects when his dignity is insulted by fellow band-members.

Frontman Sandy Nelson's rather formulaic stand-up is the weakest of the trio, but it's he who contributes most to saving the show from itself.

He brings a spirited joie de vivre to the whole thing, infusing the audience with an energy you wouldn't perhaps expect from the show's lazy Sunday afternoon timeslot. Flirting outrageously with women in the audience and crowd-surfing across the tables, he makes great efforts to bring the show to the audience - and it's certainly appreciated.

For, despite its obvious failings, this show does send you out into the chilly late afternoon with a new spring in your step, which has to be mission accomplished.

Review date: 1 Jan 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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