Rob Delaney, Joe Wilkinson, Zoe Lyons and Fin Taylor | Greenwich Comedy Festival   review by Steve Bennett
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Rob Delaney, Joe Wilkinson, Zoe Lyons and Fin Taylor

Greenwich Comedy Festival review by Steve Bennett

For a comedy club, it is considered a breach of etiquette for the MC to be as strongest of the headliner. But at the Greenwich Comedy Festival, with an audience that needed no crowd control and an assured line-up that needed no kid-gloves treatment, Fin Taylor was allowed to shine.

Sure, he made a perfunctory nod towards the ‘where you from/what do you do’ conventions of compering, finding a woman from Walton-on-the-Naze to spark his comic incredulity at such a preposterous place name.  But thereafter he made few apologies for dropping straight into material, confessing his hosting skills were rusty.

And what material it was, tackling hot potatoes such as transgender rights with provocative jokes, but without being a hateful dick about it. It’s a difficult tightrope to navigate, but he never stumbled, even though it’s the risk that he might fall off that what makes his act such a thrill.

While Taylor flirts with danger, opening act Zoe Lyons remains on safer ground, mulling how uber-liberal Brighton is her destiny as a middle-aged lesbian, grumbling about a disappointing gift from her wife, and rolling her eyes at vacuous motivational slogans.

But, my is she in command of her material. The everyday experiences come to life with her assured delivery, vibrant and friendly. Her animated description of an irritating fly as a drunken Glaswegian is a special joy. Her set was loosely about the mild discontent of First World life, but no one could be unhappy about her spirited set.

Where she had all the energy, Joe Wilkinson had none, shambling on in a suit he was never designed to wear to declare: ‘I’m not entirely sure I can be arsed.’ Indeed his live appearances are few and far between these days.

To reinforce his outsider status, should that be needed, this dour, slovenly comedian points out all the things he can’t do - like perform on Live At The Apollo. Although he has certainly made his appearances on Cats Do Countdown his own.

He’s the man who’s the weirdo on every bus he gets on, and the grubby existence he portrays in that now-familiar eccentric style is matched with slightly grubby material – with an unhealthy number of mentions of shit. But it’s not just base humour, Wilkinson writes some sharp jokes from his ultra-low-status position.

Catastrophe star Rob Delaney was also making a relatively rare live appearance, save for some low-key dates to work up material for his hosting duties on Stand-Up Central.

But he takes to the stage natural as you like just to shoot the breeze – and that doesn’t just seem to be an analogy, as he launches straight into a theory about why ‘fanny’ means different things either side of the Atlantic apparently inspired by walking past the Cutty Sark this very evening.

Generally, despite his laid-back confidence as a comedian, he portrays himself as stupidly naive in the world - so slow-witted that he was a victim of a moped robbery and didn’t realise. 

Despite such experiences he’s an Anglophile, praising our stoicism, envious of our know-your-place pragmatism which he attributes to the Monarchy, and in awe of our NHS, which gets a deserved round of applause without him needing to mention the tragic experiences which gave him first-hand experience.

And in one of the most bizarre ever coincidences of two comedians having similar material, Delaney spoke about ordering too much green tea online that it came on a pallet – an incident that has happened to fellow American stand-up Marc Maron, too, only with PG Tips.

Not as dark nor as deeply personal as the material in Delaney’s one-man shows, this set was conversational to the point that you don’t think he’s trying, but so funny that he clearly must be.

• The  Greenwich Comedy Festival runs in the grounds of the National Maritime Museum until Saturday.

Review date: 13 Sep 2018
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: National Maritime Museum

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