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Rich Hall - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Corry Shaw

Fringe veteran Rich Hall returns with another hour – plus however long he chooses to overrun for on any give night – of unthemed and ranty comedy.

Hall has been performing at the Fringe for so long he feels like part of the furniture but furniture that is reupholstered in interesting new material every year. The rants are fresh but familiar, the banter assured and funny. He is the likable, grumpy old uncle of the Assembly Rooms, and like a favourite relative you may only see once a year it is a pleasure spending time in his company and the familiar feelings swell back in your breast as you sit and listen to his tales.

He is a master of his domain, never once seeming under pressure when dealing with latecomers, well-meaning jokers in the front row or lapses of memory when it comes to his set. In fact it is these unexpected events that always make a Rich Hall show so special. He will ostensibly launch into a confident tirade about Bill Clinton’s seemingly unending depths of ego only to unapologetically lose track halfway though and create a whole new level of funny as he tries to regain pace and composure.

The joy of this show comes from not only the cleverly observed prewritten material but also the gaffs, fumbles and saves that Hall excels in.

This is not to suggest that this is a badly prepared show, the structure is sound and the material is fantastic, touching on everything from Hall’s motivations to become a comedian, to Barack Obama to disappointing sandwiches. No stone remains unturned in the search for laughs and the hour flies by in a flurry of hilarity.

There were a couple of dubious moments, such as the very funny but familiar piece about books authored by rappers. Kanye West’s literary skills may be an easy target and I’m sure numerous comics have had the idea to mock unexpected authors, but this routine sailed a little too close to Stewart Lee’s recent demolishing of Asher D’s biography.

Also in a move that I have seen several times from Hall over the past few years the show doesn’t end, despite the technician flashing a custom made ‘stop’ light. Hall just cannot ever seem to leave the stage, if he gets a laugh he shoots it down, if he doesn’t get a laugh he finds it hard to leave. What we are left with is a hostage situation with the audience desperate to applaud and Hall refusing to leave if anyone does.

Confusing and uncomfortable for a period until it is pushed so far beyond it becomes hysterical, but until the last laughs come there is a moment of panic that we will never be allowed to leave.

Review date: 15 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Corry Shaw

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