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Lloyd Langford: The Cold Hard Fact's of Life

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Jason Stone

One of stand-up's greatest challenges comes when a performer is obliged to perform in front of a crowd whose ability to enjoy the show has been compromised by hours of drinking. A fair proportion of the crowd swaying in front of Lloyd Langford tonight certainly looked as though they probably wouldn't remember too much of the entertainment on offer.

That's a shame as Langford put on a sparkling show, and those sober enough to remember their hour in his company enjoyed it enormously. It's a huge tribute to the Welshman's easy-going persistence that the same could also be said of the audience's inebriated constituency as he frequently reduced the whole room to helpless laughter.

To a certain extent, all Langford had to do was allow nature to take its course. This review shouldn’t be preoccupied with the audience's bad behaviour but it's worth noting the conduct of one couple to offer a measure of what the performer was up against. As they walked through the door five minutes late, they appeared slightly baffled to find a room full of people directing their attention to a man with microphone. They walked to the stage and shook his hand before taking seats in the front row. The bizarreness of this prompted loud cheers from the back of the room, which they acknowledged with raised fists. Langford skilfully worked their incoherent interruptions into his act until, after an unexpected period of silence, it was pointed out that their drunkenness had taken a different turn... the two of them had fallen into a alcohol-induced sleep despite the noisy mayhem that surrounding them.

But it was evident from the very start that this pair were more representative of the crowd than any comedian would want. The extent of the audience's Bacchanalian dislocation was made clear when a mention of Rebekah Brooks was met by shouts of ‘who's she?’ and it began to look worryingly as though it would be impossible to put on any kind of show.

Langford took it in his stride though and soon identified a strand of comedy that worked for the entire crowd. He moved away from News International and spoke instead about the operation to kill Osama Bin Laden, slyly passing comment on American propaganda within a piece with the broad appeal required to engage those in the audience only just able to remember who Bin Laden was.

Now into his stride, Langford ranged through a variety of topics including the vagaries of Channel 4's programming schedule in Wales and the strange behaviour of his former colleagues in a loft insulation factory. Langford's casual demeanour makes his comedy seem effortless but he mines his experiences with marvellous skill and has managed to turn tales that might have seemed anodyne in less capable hands into stories that provide terrific comedy.

Langford's best material concerned the passive-aggressive attempts by various supermarkets to persuade him to put his shopping into a reusable bag. As ever, some of the best comedy is achieved by taking a common experience and distilling it into something that provides both recognition and hilarity, and Langford's description of his relationship with plastic bags produced howls of laughter.

The audience provided Lloyd Langford with a real test and he passed it with such aplomb that sober punters were left hoping that he might have to contend with a few drunks the next time they see him, because he took a difficult situation and turned it on its head. And in doing so, he managed to create an experience that seems likely to prove one of my highlights of the Fringe.

Review date: 15 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Jason Stone

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