Clean (As Possible) Comedy Show at the 2010 Leicester Comedy Festival

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Judging by the queues to get into this show, there’s certainly a demand for clean comedy; primarily from parents who want to introduce their offspring to stand-up safely, but presumably also from those who believe in the maxim ‘you don’t have to swear to be funny’.

That’s true, but this show wasn’t the conclusive evidence the moral ‘majority’ might want to prove their point – and that’s largely the fault of Tony Vino, who both masterminds and headlines this show.

First, though, some perfunctory but not particularly productive compering from Spiky Mike, chatting with the attention-seeking youngster in the front row, to the exclusion of the rest of the room. And his gambits to any of the children, from ‘how old are you?’ to ‘what’s your favourite flavour of crisp?’ didn’t exactly hit a seam of comedy gold. There was some material based on the slight story of spotting a police car with a defective rear light, then over to Paul Kerensa, doing his second show of the afternoon in this venue.

This was more tried and tested material, compared to the new show, Borderline Racist, which he broke in beforehand. His comment about looking like Happy Days’ Ritchie Cunningham prompted a lot of discussion in the room; but Britain’s only belly-buttonless comedian soon got the gig back on track with his silly maths-based material, which might have gone over the heads of the younger members of the audience, but amused the older ones.

Vino has a few gently enjoyable lines about his Spanish father and being forced to grow up in dreary Preston, rather than Malaga, where he was born – but for the most part his half-hour set was drearily predictable. Gags revolved around confusing Alcoholics Anonymous with the other AA, and the very hackneyed – and very simple – observation that You Are What You Eat’s ‘Dr’ Gillian McKeith is a weird shit-sniffer.

Maybe the thinking is that people who want clean comedy don’t go to stand-up clubs very often, and might not have heard this, but by the end of his set he was performing to patient silence, despite his confident stage manner, suggesting they still weren’t impressed.

Vino also had a couple of surprising routines for a ‘clean’ show. There’s a bit about the effect of childbirth on his wife’s nether regions, and a tale about the prostitutes near his home. He may have used oblique language in the first case, and been inoffensive in the second, but it’s hardly family-friendly material.

Worse, though, that long story about the sex workers is just not funny, with only a mildly amusing payoff for a lengthy story. Still, he gets to impersonate a ‘scally’ drug dealer, so at least that’s another hack comedy base covered.

No, you don’t have to swear to get a laugh. But you do have to be funny.

Review date: 8 Feb 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Leicester Kayal

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