Rich Hall: Without Roy Chubby Brown

Note: This review is from 2003

Review by Steve Bennett

It's been a while since Rich Hall performed a full-length Edinburgh show as himself and on his own... and the results are more than a little disappointing,

Hall is undoubtedly one of the best comedians of his generation, his grouchy approach to everything from global politics to audience banter providing a rich source of quality gags - when he's at the top of his game.

But here he seems to be riding his reputation, playing it very safe, rather than stretching himself with much new material that might excite an audience.

He seems ill at ease in such a large space, too, his natural habitat being a sleazy, smoky underground comedy club rammed full of half-drunk punters, not a grandiose 800-seater theatre.

"These days it's very fashionable to pick on America," he said of his native land. "Which is exactly what I'm going to do."

All well and good, but much of the material is the same as that he performed with Mike Wilmot last year - and it's not as if nothing had happened on the world stage in the intervening 12 months. When he tells us again about the Americans dropping food and bombs simultaneously on the Afghan people, you can't help but feel he's a whole war behind.

When he mentions something current, such as Arnold Schwazenegger running for California governor, he does just that - mention it, but nothing more

Hall hasn't entirely buried the ghost of Otis. He takes to the stage with a keyboard and improvises a song around a punter's life, exactly the same way his jailbird bluesman did. Only here, it didn't work out too well. A love song to a Ku Klux Klansman is in a similar style, but this is a triumph.

There are other flashes of the old Hall genius when he unleashes the full bile against what winds him up, or when he slips over a feedline and steadfastly refuses to correct himself. His material about why the 2012 Olympics could come to Britain because our incompetence will prove entertaining is a classic.

Other than this, though, he doesn't seem to have the confidence to try out new ideas - even though he has an track record of success most comics would kill for.
Perhaps a smaller room, where the stakes are lower, would allow him to be more bold.

Review date: 1 Jan 2003
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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