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The Big Howard and Little Howard Show
It is the future. The world's first cartoon/human double act have been catapulted to stardom, having usurped that place in the public's heart once reserved solely for the likes of Morcambe and Wise, Rod Hull and Emu and The Krankies.
This may well be overanalysing what is essentially a cute six-year-old cartoon character - but Little Howard is something of a satirical deconstruction of the banter of stand-up.
After all, how complex can the "what's your name?/what do you do for a living?" riffing of your average compere be, if all the formulaic possibilities can be programmed into a 'response database' to drive a computer-generated, interactive toddler.
You see, for a two-dimensional creation, Little Howard has a lot of depth.
Not that this is the main appeal, of course. The lovely "aah, bless" factor of Howard Read's animated sidekick is what will really attract the audiences.
But it's a hell of a lot more than that, as Big Howard has ensured this year's show contains a decent narrative, new characters and some brilliant gags to match the technical invention on display.
A running thread is that since last year's equally delightful Fringe offering, the human Howard has become washed-up, an unnecessary burden holding back the real, animated, star.
He tries to disprove it by creating new characters such as Chalkie The Lemon Horse and H-BOT 2000 "a funny robot... from the future". Though amusingly, and deliberately, lame, it's the badly drawn cyborg who has probably the best single gag of the entire festival - a savagely brilliant one-liner about Princess Di that's worth the ticket price for its re-telling value alone.
Meanwhile, Little Howard is kidnapped by his cruel pigeon ex-manager, back from the dead and still quoting minor Eighties celebrities, who is determined to drive the double act apart.
The show really is pushing the boundaries of live performance, with the 3D Big Howard and, occasionally, the audience interacting with Little Howard over three screens. It's technically ambitious, yet Read seems completely unfazed when things go wrong, as they often must. When one screen goes blue and delivers the fateful message "The application Flash has unexpectedly quit", he just tells us to ignore it, and the show marches on.
But then Read has an indefatigable need to entertain; a spirit that ensures proceedings breezes along. Always funny, and at times downright hilarious, the show is infused with an infectious joy that will have almost universal appeal, whatever the late timeslot might suggest.
We have not seen anything like it ever before and thoroughly enjoyed and loved every minute of it... and so did Olivia (7) and Ellie (4) (of what they could comprehend). Funny, clever and touching, at times, with a lovely ending giving some good advice to youngsters. Well done -.do return to Aberdeen, please, and we will come and see you again.
Saw him perform an early version of this show in Pontardawe a couple of months ago. Didn't stop laughing from the moment he came on stage to the moment he left. If you can see him (them?), do.
Imagine ventrilloquism brought into the 21st century. The well-timed banter between the big (real) and little (animated) characters must have taken some rehearsing. Plenty of original material and the glitches really don't matter.
His stuff with Little Howardis brilliant. Never really seen anything like it. Few technical hitches, but was still previewing so to be expected. The little animated characters talking whilst you walk in is a really nice touch, you're laughing before he's even on stage.
Howard Read: The Little Howard Appeal
The Adventures Of Bitter & Twisted
Little Howard and Big Howard: At Home With The How
Howard Read: Words And Pictures
Big Value Comedy Show... Late
Robin Ince's Christmas Book Club 2006
Howard Read: Light, Shade, Lemonade
Little Howard And The Magic Pencil Of Life And Death
Little Howard's Big Show
Howard Read: Hide and Speak