My name is Simon Harper. I'm a freelance journalist specialising in writing about music and comedy. My work has been published by the Birmingham Post, Arena, Bearded, the BBC and Channel 4, among others. I have also written for BBC Radio 4 Extra's Newsjack, as well as co-writing and -hosting the Comedy Fix podcast.
I've been writing about comedy in Coventry, Birmingham and the West Midlands as Who's Laughing Now? since 2008. Here you'll find reviews, previews, interviews and other stuff about live comedy in the area.
What does it mean to bring a child into the world? Josie Long‘s latest offering, Tender, delved into this in a uniquely touching and comic way, despite a lack of surprising subject matter, with childbirth, motherhood and climate change as the foundations underpinning it.
It’s always been the treatment of such ideas which has distinguished Long from other performers; dealing with bigger themes which audiences can relate to, but using them to make something much smaller and more intimate, surrendering the macro in favour of the micro, and zooming in onto tiny moments or fragments of thoughts and feelings – both as part of her stand-up and in her storytelling/documentary series, Radio 4’s Short Cuts. Continue reading “Review: Josie Long @ Warwick Arts Centre, 23rd January 2019”
Lou Sanders’ latest show, Say Hello to Your New Step-Mummy, examined a similar area to her 2018 outing, Shame Pig. After being the subject of online vitriol following her appearance on Taskmaster, Sanders has turned this into what is at times an insightful and empowering hour of comedy.
Tackling themes such as feminism, the female body and relationships, Sanders opened the show by admitting that we’d be hearing material which wouldn’t necessarily reflect on herself in a very flattering way. In a sense, that proved correct – much of this show centred on Sanders’ confessional instincts, not least in detailing her relationship history, but it was delivered with such charming, disarming honesty that made her excellent company and kept the audience on her side. Continue reading “Review: Lou Sanders @ Warwick Arts Centre, 13th December 2019”
The award-winning stand-up debuted the show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, and will be taking it out on tour through the first part of 2020. A show for our times, it not only sees Long talking about becoming a mother but also about finding optimism and kindness in a world which often feels increasingly bleak.
As a founding member and co-host of the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society, John-Luke Roberts is no stranger to absurdist, experimental comedy. With his radio vehicle Spats, one-man plays and his well-received stand-up, as well as formerly being one half of sketch combo The Behemoth alongside Nadia Kamil, Roberts has always played fast and loose with convention, and his current show – with its MIA-referencing title, All I Wanna Do Is [FX: GUNSHOTS] With a [FX: GUN RELOADING] and a [FX: CASH REGISTER] and Perform Some Comedy – held plenty of surprises.
The Horne Section are an unusual live proposition, simultaneously all high-kicking big band extravaganza tempered by a slightly ungainly, ramshackle approach. Led by stand-up and creator of the hugely popular Taskmaster game show, Alex Horne, the six-piece outfit brought their current show to Coventry as part of their biggest tour to date.
That confluence of silliness and deft, fiendishly clever comedy has always been evident in Horne’s solo stand-up, marrying the unconventional and the curious to much more familiar backdrops, and the Horne Section – in their live shows, Radio 4 series and last year’s TV special broadcast on Dave – have taken that even further to concoct shows of joyful wonder which would nevertheless be difficult to explain to anyone who’s not already in on the joke. Continue reading “Review: The Horne Section @ Warwick Arts Centre, 9th May 2019”
Musical comedy powerhouse the Horne Section are set to embark on their biggest UK tour to date this spring. The acclaimed sextet, led by stand-up Alex Horne, have thrilled audiences over the past decade, at the Edinburgh Fringe and with their eponymous Radio 4 show, not to mention a star-studded TV special filmed at the London Palladium and broadcast on Dave last year.
Read a syndicated interview with Alex Horne – creator and co-host of the BAFTA- and Emmy-nominated Taskmaster, also broadcast on Dave – below for an insight into what the tour has in store for audiences, as well as more about how the Horne Section were formed, what makes them tick, and all that jazz.
As a well-established stand-up and familiar voice on Radio 4, Lucy Porter has a very clear idea of her target audience. By her own admission, Porter has leaned into those expectations to mine subjects for her shows – described, as recounted here, by one reviewer as “middle-aged, middle class and middle of the road,” Porter is taking that rather unhelpful assessment as a compliment, and so she should.
Pass It On, her current show, took her experience of menopause as its starting point and central thread, culminating in some deftly woven routines about the change in outlook and realisations which it has led to. Porter’s on-stage demeanour, as a warm and naturally funny performer, ensured that this kind of material was relatable to the audience, making herself the butt of many of these jokes and gleefully sharing embarrassing stories such as her trip to M&S to buy new pairs of jeans. Continue reading “Review: Lucy Porter @ Warwick Arts Centre, 10th February 2019”