Ebony and Irony (Russell Howard and Matt Blaize)

Note: This review is from 2002

Review by Margaret Ishola

What a clever and funny title. Sadly it's the best bit of a show as dreadful as the McCartney/Wonder abomination that inspired the pun.

This show comprises a half-hour set from each comedian. Matt Blaize opens the show with a gag or two before introducing "the light to my darkness, the irony to my ebony... Russell Howard". As it transpires, this proves completely misrepresentative, as any irony or light is about to be completely lost in the comedy abyss into which, we are about to fall.

Howard launches into a dialogue with the miniscule but attentive 'crowd', although nothing of any humour emanated from this, as his initial gambits received merely a muted response. Howard's confidence then appeared to ebb away as he alighted on the surreal subjects of Siamese twins and midgets riding on dogs to universal bewilderment.

Realising that all is not well, he reassures himself - if not the paying punters - by reminding himself he has had a great day and that nothing can spoil it. Unfortunately, it's too late for the audience who will remember this day only for this awful experience that is unfolding.

Howard becomes increasingly defensive and implies that those who did make the effort to attend are somehow at fault.

He apologises profusely to Matt Blaize before handing over what has become the poisoned chalice of stage time.

Blaize tries to lift the mood by criticising Richard Blackwood and his '38 scriptwriters' for their inability to come up with anything more original than black males' mythical aversion to cunnilingus.

He insists that he and his black friends love to orally satisfy their women (are you listening, ladies?) so Blackwood is not only unimaginative but incorrect. We could care less, we could laugh more.

He then informs the audience that they are about to take part in The Honesty Game in which they may learn something about themselves.

We are delighted to take even the smallest crumb from this Spartan meal and enter with unwise gusto into this participation. A quick-fire round of moral questions result in male members of the audience being made aware that they are likely only to require monogamy from their female partners until said partner indulges in lesbian sex with their gorgeous best mate. I seem to remember Richard Blackwood coming up with a similarly enlightening 'gag' some time ago. Perhaps, in an attempt to avoid prosecution under the Trades Description Act, Blaize was being ironic.

He then upset the mild-mannered but assertive audience by riding roughshod over national sensitivities and unwittingly insulting the Scottish nation. Things grew ever more chaotic as Blaize entered into a power struggle with an audience that hadn't asked for a fight in which no one could emerge as victors.

In the song, McCartney and Wonder suggested "there is good and bad in everyone". Not tonight there wasn't.

Review date: 1 Jan 2002
Reviewed by: Margaret Ishola

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