Bernie Clifton

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett


The fact that this review almost didn't make it to the screen is testament to what a rare act Bernie Clifton. While clambering through the crowd wrapping them up with duck tape as he went, Clifton spied Chortle's notepad and swiped it quick. Not many acts have the guts to do that to a reviewer. Luckily a helpful staff member was happy to lend a couple of bits of paper so the review goes on

Filling one hour and twenty at this one-off and indeed debut show at the fringe, Clifton had decided to share it with a younger, fringe regular. And thus came about the bizarre pairing of Clifton with one of the best satirical comedians on the circuit today ­ Robin Ince.

Ince's opening was a nod to one of his shows at the festival this year The Book Club where comics read from books that have taken their fancy. Ince begins with readings from some frankly ridiculous books he found in a charity shop - a Mills and Boon descriptive passage about a lasagne is read like you've never heard it read before and there's a guide to marriage that lays down the recommended skirt length for ladies wanting to bag a husband.

By this point in the review you probably want to know whether Clifton had brought the infamous ostrich out with him. He certainly had. As Ince acquiesced to tell some 'proper' jokes Clifton did the classic panto turn of running up and down at the back of the stage with the yellow fake fur bird attached as the perplexed Ince wondered what everyone was laughing at. Clifton then threw a postmodern slant on it with 'you'll have worked out the legs by now,' and 'did you think I was dead? Did you think I'd fallen off the Roof correcting my aerial?'

What followed showed that Clifton still relishes audience interaction what with the duck tape shenanigans and picking on poor Jean from North Berwick whom he moved from her chosen seat to the other side of the auditorium and berated throughout. His material consisted largely of silliness and music with an enforced sing-a-long of Dick Dodd's Dad's Dog Dead and a medley of Phantom Of The Opera performed from underneath what appeared to be a curtain with a stuffed cat perched on his shoulder.

He finished in true cabaret style with a good old -fashioned song. The four star rating is awarded to the 70-year-old Clifton for keeping the spirit of variety alive and to Ince for being such a good sport in this happy meshing of old style comedy and modern stand up.

Marissa Burgess


Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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