Sally-Anne Hayward: Is He Funny?

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Sally-Anne Hayward is following in her father’s footsteps, well sort of. He was – still is – a comic of the old-school, telling jokes about fellas who walk into pubs or visit their doctor with unlikely ailments; while she works the modern circuit, hoping people will laugh at her own failings and insecurities.

For her debut solo show, Hayward Jr shares some affectionate observations of her family life, where Russ Abbott, Keith Harris and The Krankies would be regular house guests. Roger De Courcey Is My Godfather could have been an alternative, truthful title.

But it’s something of a missed opportunity. There’s no grand idea behind the banter; no conclusions about how comedy or society has changed; no real personal insight into the lot of a comedian or their stay-at-home loved ones. Nothing really to tie the show up into a satisfying whole.

Hayward, though, is delightful company, friendly and modestly vivacious. She works hard at getting people to like her, even at the expense of a couple of more harder-edged jokes that she undersells, seemingly out of fear we might think less of her. The effort is unnecessary, as she’s charismatic and naturally likeable.

She interacts easily with the audience – a polite, small room holding no fear after honing her skills as a regular compere at Bristol’s often-raucous Jesters club. Chatting to a grandfather in the room, she gets into a digression on coprophilia – an unlikely subject given the warm-hearted theme of the show – that proves as good, and sometimes better, than the anecdotes she’d prepared.

She doesn’t just coast by on charm, mind, there are gags here, too, some of which are deceptively sharp. But a world away from the sort her dad, Squire Ronnie Hayward, tells. In the tough world of showbusiness, he’s been relatively successful, appearing on Seaside Special, Sunday Night At The London Palladium and enjoying a long career on the cruise ships, but never becoming famous. The samples his daughter gives of his work are a mix of hoary favourites and smarter gags that have weathered the effects of time remarkably well. This show won’t last as long, it’s rather too lightweight for that.

Is He Funny? Well, yes he is. Is She? Yes again, and instinctively, perhaps genetically, so. But she needs a stronger focus and bigger ideas to convert that into an hour that carries more weight than simply being an enjoyable chat.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Aug 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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