Comedy De Luxe night 4

Gig review by Steve Bennett

The sold-out house for the exquisitely sardonic Simon Evans at week four of Comedy De Luxe witnessed a competent, if inconsistent, line-up of newer acts for their first-half appetizers.

First up was David Hannant, who’d seen a sign advertising ‘baby massage’, which set off his mind as to what this might be. You might have some ideas yourself, and many of them could well be the same as what Hannant came up with in this textbook-exercise way of writing observational stand-up. The final pay-off evoked a funny image, and he’s affable enough, but the writing here isn’t much of a stretch. Nevertheless, his routine about explicit texting was stronger, and struck a chord – especially in some embarrassed quarters of the audience – by exposing the inherent ridiculousness of the practice. It’s a simple idea, but nicely drawn out, aside from the redundant introduction of a ‘what would cavemen think...’ line

Cheeky chappy Jimmy Bird has the patter, but his gags are decidedly hit and miss. There are nicely self-effacing fantasies about being a Brighton beach lifeguard or getting carried away on a paintballing trip, but when the setting shifts to urban Brixton, the joke is a lot more obvious. And some segments, about his family’s Christmas gifts or his sausage dog, are convoluted for little reward. He’s got a an unnaturally deliberate pacing, which seems a bit forced, and, like Hannant before him, his personality doesn’t shine through enough to make the reasonable material stand out.

Adam Race makes a lot of puns about his surname. But then he makes a lot of puns, full stop. He over-sells them all, trying to make a virtue of their cheesy nature, but he’s no Nick Helm in that respect, lacking the uber-confidence that his delivery is striving for. There are some decent gags among the more tortured efforts, and even has a decent take on the ‘celebrity I look like’ shtick, but he’s a little too erratic at the moment.

Nicholas Cooke is an unusual act; using his time to string out one long and convoluted shaggy-dog tale about being kidnapped in – or by – Ikea. For seemingly endless minutes, he goes without a laugh, yet he has the storytelling chops to have the audience hanging on his every word. Then an occasional word or phrase will tickle, and provide the laugh break. It is more of a witty spoken-word performance than out-and-out comedy, but he certainly has great command of the room.

Star of the first half was undoubtedly the charmingly ironic Tom Toal. T-Squared, as he calls himself in one of several supposedly hip third-person nicknames, has a quirky outlook and the gags to match. This quarter-Polish comic is softly endearing – enough to be able to get away with the story of a ‘barely legal’ girlfriend without it sounding creepy – and he has a fine sense of comic timing and rhythm, with one especially well-judged line causing a well-deserved eruption of laughter. The T-Dog is certainly one of the most promising of today’s emerging comics.

Published: 15 Feb 2013

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