Howard Read: Words And Pictures

Note: This review is from 2002

Review by Steve Bennett

Howard Read has created a big, bouncy, larger-than-life cartoon of a show - and that's before you even get to the animation.

His own persona could have come straight from the pens of Hanna or Barbera - a playful bear of a man, happily enjoying the strange things in his world, and inviting you to share them.

Perhaps, then, it's little surprise that he is so gifted at animation - he won a BBC new comedy award for his work last year - and he punctures this stand-up show with some impressive computerised shenanigans.

Chief of these is the much-publicised Little Howard, the shy, cute and inquisitive ten-year-old who accompanies Read for some of his "standing-up comedy".

It's this creation who has attracted much interest, mainly because of the bold attempt to create live, interactive animation with the two-dimensional youngster bantering with the audience.

Perhaps it is a little too ambitious, as Read is still struggling with the huge complexities involved in summoning up the right responses for his digital offspring. But no matter, for everyone loves Little Howard, even if he does stumble over his words.

That's because Read is a grand master in eliciting empathy from the audience - not just for his on-screen creations, but also for his own stand-up.

There's no biting satire or razor-sharp observations here, instead Read's show is full-pelt no-brained fun - a warm-hearted pantomime for grown-ups performed with irresistible gusto.

Stupid puns, ridiculous songs and even a human game of Guess Who? all add to this carnival of a show that's guaranteed to raise the spirits of all who see it.

Review date: 1 Jan 2002
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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