Morgan Rees: Turning Thirsty | Review of the Welsh comic's first tour
review star review star review star review blank star review blank star

Morgan Rees: Turning Thirsty

Review of the Welsh comic's first tour

The atomisation of live comedy into myriad small fan groups can make it  hard to follow any one stand-up’s career. In my mind, Morgan Rees is a decent, jobbing circuit act – yet here he is filling – or at least two-thirds filling – the prestigious Hackney Empire in London. How did that happen?

Social media, most likely. It seems that around 127,000 Instagram followers can get you these sort of sales. He has to reassure the audience up top, more than a little tongue-in-cheek: ‘I tell jokes as well, I don’t just take off my top’, before summarising his personality for those who don’t know him as ‘Welsh. Queer. Rugby.’ And he never talks about rugby.

Rees came out as bisexual during lockdown, and if the Turning Thirsty of the title suggests a litany of wild sexual encounters now he’s living his authentic life after a milestone birthday, prepare to have your hopes of vicarious thrills dashed, at least partially.

While the comic has become increasingly comfortable in his sexuality, he’s also settled down – and with a model, too. (However he is still a keen advocate of MDMA, he’s not turned entirely square…)

Rees’s position is that he can’t believe his luck to have found someone so hot. For – whatever the trappings of the venue suggest – the stand-up’s persona is that of someone never destined to be an alpha. To underline the point, he shares self-effacing anecdotes about living in the same building as a Ghanaian beauty ​salon while working at a Taylor Swift-themed brunch to make ends meet.

Before coupling up, he had to kiss a few frogs, and an early section covers dating, albeit in general terms rather than specific anecdotes. This leads us to a list of icks, which is less about genuine red flags than an excuse for Rees to do stand-up about whatever trivialities get his goat. He’s an uncompromising comic telling it like it is on hard-hitting subjects like… car sickness. 

That often works to great effect, alighting on some lesser-aired gripes that his audience can get behind. But sometimes these chunks go on too long, without quite making the fact his rant is so disproportionate into the joke itself, though that appears to be the aim. Anger, even confected anger, isn’t his natural vibe, he’s far too laid-back for that

More lascivious content comes from support act Jayde Adams – who I’d assume was the more famous of the two  comics. She was returning the compliment after Rees previously opened for her in this very venue. 

Adams certainly burnished her credentials with the majority gay audience with tales of club nights out and accidentally finding herself at a chemsex party, as well as her own queer encounters. It’s a set that’s probably more personality than gags – she basically admitted as much herself – but the crowd didn’t care.

In contrast with Adams’s swagger, the affable Rees is a lot more self-deprecating – sometimes undeservedly so. The fat jokes against himself seem almost like cultural appropriation from the chunky community, given that he looks pretty hench in his sleeveless camo jumpsuit.

Though a fashion statement, it’s also a practical outfit, giving him the freedom to act out his sex tape in all its unsexy horror. He thought he had the bedroom moves until video evidence proved otherwise. Of course it did.

It’s a funny act-out that tops a night of solid stand-up from a man with a catalogue of amusing observations about setting into who he is in life, warts and all, occasionally sprinkled with dick jokes. 

However the show also belies its status as his first tour, and never quite gets into the higher gear you might hope for, especially given the scale and splendour of the venue. But he's charming, honest and warm as a performer, which all augers well.

Morgan Rees is on tour with Turning Thirsty until July 5. Morgan​ ​Rees tour dates

Enjoy our reviews? Like us to do more? Please consider supporting our in-depth coverage of Britain's live comedy scene with a monthly or one-off ko-fi donation, if you can. The more you support us, the more we can cover! 

Review date: 20 May 2024
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Hackney Empire

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.