Ben Pope

Ben Pope

Ben Pope started comedy at university where he was the President of the Cambridge Footlights (2013-14) and was Piccadilly Comedy Club New Comedian of the Year in 2017.. He is also one third of the cult sketch group Princes of Main.
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Ben Pope: Holy Cow

Review from the Vault Festival, London

Having just turned 30, Ben Pope wittily puts himself in the demographic of ‘old enough to know the dream is dead, not old enough to change’ in its pursuit.

It reflects an intriguing tone for Holy Cow that’s warm, engaging and sometimes silly while showing hints of a more hopeless nihilism that he seeks to overcome. ‘Life can’t be this?’ he pleads, partly in desperation but tempered by an optimism that things will get better.

As a lapsed Catholic, he hasn’t quite found anything to believe in now God has left the position vacant. Being single is the source of more emptiness – emphasised by the ridiculous number of weddings he’s attended, either as a guest or working as a waiter. But one evening reception he describes in all its horrific, drink-fuelled aggression is hardly a ringing endorsement for picking a soulmate for life.

Any existential issues are, however, dealt with remarkably lightly, for Pope is, above all, an appealing raconteur, charming, lively and confident in his delivery. In his writing, he has an ear for pithy phrase-making and a talent for daft analogies. Plus, he serves up an abundance of amusing asides and jokey tags that give all his stories comic momentum. Some of these are a little too engineered in their wryness to feel entirely natural, but a joke’s a joke, and he’s not short of them.

Pope, a former Cambridge Footlighter, projects an image that calls to mind a not-quite-so-posh and a notably more dishevelled version of Jack Whitehall. And like the more famous comic, he’s happy to share the humiliations that undermine any privilege he has. He might be an occasional chorister at Westminster Cathedral, but one takeaway anecdote is of him turning up to work when high, which is all the funnier for being far out of character.

Elsewhere he takes a pop at astrology, not entirely unconnected to the fact an unfaithful ex believed in it. Even here, he holds back from being too mean, never doing anything that might dent his affable persona.

Pope’s probably unlucky to be forging his comedy career at a time when being a youngish, well-spoken, straight white guy with a lumberjack shirt and a slightly flippant attitude is more of a hinderance than the unquestioned key to an easy comedy path than it once was. But he’s one of the most promising of that bunch, with joke-writing skills and the ability to deliver a rewarding, funny and well-put-together hour of robust quality that means he should - hopefully – punch through.

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Published: 30 Jan 2023

Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2018

Ben Pope: Baby Sasquatch

Edinburgh Fringe 2019

Ben Pope: Dancing Bear


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