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Edinburgh Fringe 2013 (652)
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Misc live shows (201)Montreal 2004 (6)
Montreal 2006 (10)
Montreal 2007 (15)
Montreal 2008 (17)
Montreal 2009 (17)
West End run (14)
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Sandra Bernhard: Without You I'm Nothing 2009
School For Gifted Children
Scott Capurro's Position
Scottish Comedian Of The Year 2006
Scottish Comedian Of The Year Final 2007
Scottish Comedian Of The Year Final 2008
Sean Hughes: Leicester Comedy Festival
Secret Policeman's Ball 2006
Secret Policeman's Ball 2008
Service With A Smile
Slap And Giggle: Rehearsed
Spinal Tap: Back From The Dead
Spymonkey’s Love In
Stand Up Drink Up
Stand Up For Palestine
Stand Up Get Down
Stephen Grant: Up Front, Theatre Royal Brighton
Stewart Lee: What Would Judas Do?
The Stockholm Syndrome
Stockholm Syndrome [Glasgow]
Stoolpigeon: Postcards On The Edge
Susan Murray: 21st Century Fox
Secret Policeman's Ball 2006
Amnesty International’s legendary Secret Policeman’s Balls shows were a unique series of comedy gigs that went down in showbiz history. And at the Royal Albert Hall on October 14, 2006 it was back - 'bigger, better and Ballsier than ever before.'
Quite an event, a charity spectacular for Amnesty International, using a banner title dating from 1976 when the likes of Peter Cook and John Cleese were at the helm, roping in Pythons and Beyond the Fringers to blow together the sketches.
The Royal Albert Hall is like a centrifuge of an auditorium, with people plastered all round the walls and across the floor of the arena, tier upon tier of them. What it achieves in volume of audience is undercut by the impossibility of intimacy. Enormous screens picked up what was happening on the stage at the organ end of auditorium, a wide space for the sketches, and a promenade stage for stand-up jutting into the arena. It was strange to see that the hugely magnified images of the performers felt richer and more vivid than seeing the actual people, tiny, drained of colour by TV lights and vulnerable looking.
The back announcer kept a dignified hand on the tiller for the evening, being wryly amusing and not over excitable introducing the musicians, the animation video breaks and the acts, with a decent script. The animations fulfilled the ‘message’ function of the evening, satirising Guantanamo Bay, domestic violence, censorship and the arms trade including a splendid shopping channel parody flogging AK-47s. The opening set from the Zutons provided a much need jolt of adrenalin and energy into a rather quiet, respectful crowd.
Dylan Moran opened the batting for the stand-ups, with a swift and engaging set including stuff about America being the bad flatmate of the world, what men and women want, the inability to shake of our stereotypical vision of Germans still being heirs of Hitler.
There followed a sketch, two members of the American military at Guantanamo Bay detaining a pair British Asian tourists protesting they’re not getting the holiday as advertised in the brochure. A warm round of applause greeted Shobna Gulati (from Coronation Street) as one of the internees, mainly because nobody had first recognised Chevy Chase in a military cap and uniform – and also maybe because nobody has seen an old Saturday Night Live since God was a boy. A comedy legend, but like so many, known more by reputation than appearance.
Roy and Mary Loaf, a country and western parody with a miserably funny ballad on electrocution was well presented by Jessica Stevenson and Julia Davis unrecognisable in a grey fright wig and whiskers. Cut to Andrew Maxwell, bringing his natural joie de vivre to the occasion and acknowledging it to be the ‘biggest gig of my life’ and boldly trying some audience participation.
The first sight of a proper, homegrown household name came with Graham Norton, Ronnie Ancona and Jon Culshaw presenting a sketch history of the charity gala, an opportunity to showcase the vocal impression talents with ‘Davina McCall’ reporting a Big Brother style eviction from Buckingham Palace. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the voices of Audrey Hepburn, who may now be better know by Ronnie Ancona’s impersonation than for herself, her films don’t come up that often on the box, Ruby Wax, Jennifer Saunders (which got a special ‘ooh’ of acknowledgement), Ozzie and Sharon Osborne, Lorraine Kelly, George Bush and Ricky Gervais.
Russell Brand was considerably less irritating than expected, reading from and commenting on stories in The Sun, particularly successfully on readers’ responses to a news item on Ian Huntley. Damn it, he was quite funny. Closing the first half, The Mighty Boosh brought the biggest squeal from the audience so far as they were announced, with Noel Fielding in a mirrorball catsuit and Julian Barratt giving Russell Brand some competition in the bad hair stakes. A sound-assisted sword fight, a massive custard pie – which didn’t get thrown, and five giant bunnies invading the stage lifted the room at the close of the first half, with the show already over-running by 40 minutes before the interval.
Kicking off the second half with The Magic Numbers and Martha Wainwright sang I Shall Be Released as a gentle reminder of what the evening was all about, before Al Murray took the stage as the Pub Landlord, with his mobile bar. Treating the big gig just like any other, he got some of the biggest and best belly laughs of the evening, reprising his love of ‘great British names’ disgust for Europe and the French and a real sense of spontaneity, which was hampered by some pantomime nonsense with a giant Euro rolling on stage behind him, which allowed a small stage invasion by a panto horse and some dwarves, to no obvious comic effect.
A short sketch by the principal cast members of Green Wing was ever so slightly embarrassing, but the audience clearly loved to see someone off the telly; the applause as they started was considerable. Omid Djalili was then togged up in dictator’s brocade and brass and saddled with a comic monologue, dictating his diary, a ‘day in the life of a dictator’. It wasn’t that funny, but Omid could make the phone book charming and he wrung as much as possible from rather unpromising material.
A real breath of fresh air blew through the room with Sarah Silverman, a New York comic I’ve only seen briefly in The Aristrocrats. Her delicate, college educated, nice Jewish girl persona contrast beautifully with the un-PC, sick, selfish and dark material. Best bit so far, even if some faces took on a smacked arse aspect on hearing about seven-year-old lesbians and exhuming a dead granny to look for traces of semen. Just as the audience was flagging, a musical number with David Armand lipsynching to Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn, and signing it, somewhat literally, was topped by the woman herself joining him and sending herself up along the way.
This paved the way for the Amnesty Players to present an Agatha Christie murder mystery, Cluedo style, in order to crowbar a few more famous faces on to the stage. Richard E Grant played it pleasingly straight-faced as the Detective. By this stage nobody cared less that the script was utterly lame, it was just fun to see Julian Rhind Tutt suffering a melodramatic suicide by candlestick, Jo Brand as a pastry cook and Richard E Grant indulge the audience with a quote from Withnail and I along the lines of ‘We want the finest wines known to humanity …’.
Eddie Izzard as the big attraction at the end got away with murder impersonating flies, bees, giraffes and engaging with the idea of ‘Intelligent Design’ as the new cover story for Creationism. After the expected homage to the work of Amnesty International from Jeremy Irons in complete luvvie-mode in his Chinese worker’s top, which felt like the end of the show, there was a re-working of Land of Hope And Glory sung by the entire cast, wherein the prospect of Britain going down the pan, cocking up the Olympics and being saddled with ringtones and Jimmy Carr made Guantanamo Bay an appealing alternative, a strangely distasteful and off-message bit of irony for the end of the evening.
Overall an enjoyable show, tending to the ponderously long. The most successful comedy was definitely from the people who still put in the hard yards working live comedy 52 weeks a year, with the cobbled together sketches needing much audience indulgence. But a charity gig is much like the infants’ Nativity play, successful in its own terms and not deserving of too much harsh scrutiny.
Reviewed by: Julia Chamberlain
In fits of laughter at the guy depicting Natalie Imbruglias Torn - Who was he!? (David Armand, as the review says - Ed)
Omid Djalili: No Agenda
Russell Brand: Eroticised Humour
Al Murray The Pub Landlord: Barrel Of Fun
Al Murray: Giving It Both Barrels
Al Murray: The Pub Landlord’s Beautiful British Tour
Al Murray: Who Dares Wines
Dylan Moran: Monster
Dylan Moran: Monster II
Dylan Moran: What It Is
Eddie Izzard: Force Majeure
Edinburgh And Beyond 2007
Jo Brand 2008 tour
Mighty Boosh Live
Mighty Boosh Live 2008
Omid Djalili 2008 tour
Omid Djalili: Tour Of Duty
Russell Brand: Scandalous
Eddie Izzard: Stripped
AmusedMoose Laugh Off 06 final
Andrew Maxwell: Round Twilight
Maxwell's Full Mooners
Russell Brand: Shame
Andrew Maxwell: This Is My Hour
Russell Brand's Better Now
These Are Not Our Views
Noel Fielding: Voodoo Hedgehog Perrier nominee
Omid Djalili at the Queen's Hall
Omid Djalili: Behind Enemy Lines Perrier nominee
Pablo Diablo's Cryptic Triptych
A Seriously Funny Attempt To Get The SFO in The Dock
BBC London Children in Need benefit
Carlsberg Comedy Carnival 2009
Channel 4 Comedy Gala 2011
Eddie Izzard: Work In Progress
Ha Ha Hammersmith II
Malcolm Hardee Charity Cabaret 2007
Secret Policeman's Ball 2008
Teenage Cancer Trust Benefit 2007
Big Fat Gypsy Gangster
Bunny And The Bull
A Film With Me In It
A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg
Andrew Maxwell: Waxin'
Edinburgh and Beyond 
Maxwell's Full Mooners [2007 Fringe]
Andrew Maxwell: Supernatural
Omid Djalili: Live 2008
Stand Up For Freedom 
Apatow For Destruction
Russell Brand [Montreal 2008]
Al Murray The Pub Landlord
Andrew Maxwell: The Lamp
Stand Up For Freedom 
Al Murray The Pub Landlord: Compete For The Meat
Andrew Maxwell: Five Nights Only
Al Murray's Compete For The Meat
Al Murray's Compete For The Meat Late Night Special
Andrew Maxwell: The Lights Are On
Maxwell's Fullmooners 2011
Omid Djalili: Work in Progress
Al Murray The Pub Landlord: The Guv’s Olympic Pub Quiz
Al Murray: The Only Way is Epic
Andrew Maxwell: That's The Spirit
Dylan Moran: Yeah, Yeah
Al Murray: The Only Way Is Epic [Edinburgh 2013]
Al Murray: The Pub Landlord's Compete for The Haggis Independence Special!
Andrew Maxwell: Banana Kingdom
Omid Djalili Live [Fringe 2013]
The Wrestling II