Tom Binns: The Club Sets | Review by Steve Bennett
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Tom Binns: The Club Sets

Note: This review is from 2015

Review by Steve Bennett

Tom Binns says he wants to pay tribute to the variety bills that were on TV in his youth, and true to his word he’s created a one-man Seaside Special – Roger De Courcey, Ali Bongo and Peter Powell all rolled into one.

For younger readers that makes him a ventriloquist, magician and DJ… but you already knew the latter thanks to his enduring hospital radio nitwit Ivan Brackenbury, who closes this show with his usual selection of ill-chosen requests. This is as dependably bad-taste funny as ever, a familiar face at the Fringe for the best part of a decade belting out the hits.

The show opens with Binns’s follow-up creation, the psychic Ian D Montfort, who’s morphing away from the cold readings from ‘beyond the grave’ – though it’s a bit of a shame to see exhibitions of that talent go – and into the word of magic; forcing an hilarious result from a tarot card session.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Binns unveils a new talent in the central section: ventriloquism… thought the running joke is that he’s terrible at it (à la Sandy Powell, from lifetimes ago) and has to keep finding excuses. Although, it’s more than that: a chance for him have other ‘people’ to interact with, foam incarnations of his family, with whom he has proper conversations, not simply as straightman to their insults, as is the usual convention.

He has a nice jibe at Jeff Dunham’s Achmed The Dead Terrorist, the racist rednecks’ favourite, and to his eternal credit doesn’t do the tired ‘hand up the bum’ gag. There’s a sense that he could take the neglected art form somewhere different with this, although that running gag won’t sustain.

The whole show is written with the punchlines very much front and centre – very much a trait of those comedians of the 1970s he’s paying tribute to – from D Montfort’s serenely-delivered double entendres to Brackenbury’s anatomical puns. It means the laughs come hard and often, from start to finish. They’re not always sophisticated lines, but they hit the funny bone, while so much attention has gone into the personas that deliver them. As another entertainer from the 1970s used to say, ‘It’s the way he tells ‘em.’

Review date: 19 Aug 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Assembly George Square

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