7th & 9th Nov
This week at the stand it’s… interesting. Ben Verth is quite attractive, so when he spends half his set talking about the abuse he’s received on account of his ungodly ugliness and whale like proportions, it’s pretty hard to buy, although his pube-based chat is genuinely brilliant, and there are a lot of big laughs. All in all a pretty solid opener. On the way out of the gig a mutual pal introduces us. “Are you the reviewer?” he says, I nod and go to hug “hi.”
“I’m not giving you a hug unless I know if I got a good review.”
Now, I don’t think it’s mannerly to divulge this sort of information, so I declined the conditional cuddle politely… but the guy clearly has something worth developing, the Mumble has had good things to say about Ben in the past, and they’re not wrong.
At least Ben Verth’s fat jokes are at his own expense, and often genuinely witty. Phil Nichol does what was probably two minutes but felt like forever to me on just how fat one particular fat woman is: has her own orbit, is a key cause of African famine. Blah. Then he does a bit about how all women are completely neurotic about their appearance. Then he does a joke about what a drag it is being obligated to tell your girlfriend she’s beautiful, while secretly dying to whip out the scalpel and shear off her many imperfections. Don’t get me wrong, LOTS of people laugh, but when they do, it makes me feel worse about humanity. Then he sings a song about political correctness has gone mad, in which he lists racial stereotypes while impersonating a variety of famous musicians.
This is followed by an animated rendition of ‘The Only Gay Eskimo” replete with vigorous thrusting at the audience. I think I understand how it was that a man like Ben Elton once became radical. About a quarter of Phil’s act is basically bullying a man in the audience by implying that he was going to have non-consensual sex with him. Some people were uncomfortable with this – I’d say a fifth of the audience. A lot of folk were loving the crap out of it. It was what they were there for. A classroom wide-o who’s managed to make it pay can probably be quite diverting if you don’t dwell too deeply on the dodgy race stuff, and gender stuff, and sexuality stuff. Comedy about racism, for example, can be brilliant, but not when the joke is at the expense of the folk already at the raw end of the deal. Of course, many people love to revel in a comedian who genuinely doesn’t give a fuck about that stuff. I like people who do. It’s a taste thing. If Phil were a back in the classroom today, he’d be given Ritalin. And his mum would benefit from some too, to help block out the incessant screaming.
Kate Dillon has the charm and assured delivery of a much more experienced comic. The pace is quick and her mixture of genuine self-deprecation and mischieviousness endears the audience, as, unexpectedly, does her story about dogging, which she magically turns into the SWEETEST discussion. Lovable, convincing and with a knack for unexpected twists, Stewart is one to watch.
Compere Stu Murphy held a disparate and mouthy crowd together admirably, and is that most generous sort of MC who sets himself up as the audience’s fall guy, letting the crowd produce a lot of the laughs. He generates both a brilliant atmosphere and consistently enjoyable banter off-the-cuff at a rate of knots.. I love him most for introducing the guest spot, a friend of his, Andrea Hubert, who is unashamedly posh, unabashedly clever and unapologetically brilliant.
She’s really exciting to watch, her delivery is so assured and her material such smart, thought-provoking stuff. There is stuff about race here, stuff about abortion, and it’s not just funny, it feels like necessary, original thought. Her stuff about depression is hilarious, which given the subject matter is pretty impressive. Her act crackles with acerbic energy and defiance; it feels like watching something fresh and new happening. One to watch.
Reviewer : Katie Craig