Rich Hall

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Rich Hall leaves every other stand-up in the dust. Now I'm supposed to write another couple of hundred words. OK it's all subjective but 700 or so other people in the room would not have demurred on that conclusion. Everything feels freshly made, spontaneous and uncontrived ­ it made me want to go back and to see if there's an entirely different hour the following night. You'd think impossible, but it feels likely.

The most recognisable voice in comedy did his own introduction and then loped on, taking to task a man in the front row with an empty seat next to him. Many comics tease and cajole an audience member to the point of squirming and Rich Hall's style is persistent and grumpy, but it pays off.

The way he leans on the mic stand or holds it arms length, he looks for all the world like a janitor gripping a broom, with some of that admonitory manner. He quickly moved off from generalised observations on Edinburgh and the festival, via the Body Shop to animal testing, big game that could use a little make up, sex calls, Darwin, ranch life and iPods. The focus swung back and forward across the Atlantic, between American presidents and the futility of London hosting the Olympic Games in Hackney, and loads more. Nothing is worked to death and every approach takes an unexpected turn.

There's no yodelling overwrought ranting here, it's the concentrated, pithy sentence that absolutely fixes an image or concept in your head, as an example: 'let me tell you about the River Lea; you could develop film in it' ­ the most economical manner and funniest image to explain the level of pollution, without any strained hyperbole. Brilliant. Even the occasional non-sequitur is funny.

He dealt with an insistent heckler with skill and more charm than the idiot deserved, wondering aloud how many other comedians could take an irritating guy and make him into a positive feature of the show. It was a marvellous piece of control that made sure the rest of the audience weren't too frustrated by the interruptions, acknowledging the outbursts without giving the man such attention which would also lose the crowd.

He started at full tilt and maintained the pace of material, bringing the audience into his train of thought as though it starts and ends well away from the stage, we just step into the stream of it. All in all, a completely satisfying show that I didn't want to end.

Steve Bennett


Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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