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.
Just the Tonic Comedy Club takes up residency at The Comedy Loft – formerly Jongleurs – in Birmingham at the beginning of next month. The launch night, on Thursday 5th May, sees Lee Nelson headlining with appearances from Matt Reed and special guests.
One of the most prestigious comedy clubs in the country, Just the Tonic’s Birmingham residency then continues with a special event on the Thursday 19th May with a line-up featuring Reginald D Hunter, Adam Bloom, Steve Harris and Darrell Martin. In between, there will be Friday and Saturday night bills boasting top comics including Brendon Burns, Andrew Bird and many more.
It might be odd to see PE kits on stage – and maybe even bring embarrassing flashbacks for some – but the plain white t-shirts and gym shorts are the uniform of choice for acclaimed sketch act Gein’s Family Giftshop. The trio of James Meehan, Kath Hughes and Ed Easton – aided and abetted by Kiri Pritchard-McLean, who was also the support act here – have carved out a niche as purveyors of dark sketch comedy, and this compilation of the best bits from their past two shows displayed just why they’re so highly regarded.
As show titles go, A Show With A Man In It is a wholly accurate description of what ensued in this 90 minutes. Suggested by Alun Cochrane‘s son, the stand-up adopted it for his run at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and, in its pleasing simplicity, seems to comfortably reflect the un-showy nature of Cochrane’s output.
Richard Herring is a stand-up veteran and also something of a workhorse these days. His disparate stream of podcasts and stage output in recent years has been an impressive example of productivity, not content to restrict himself to one new show every year and instead churning out hours upon hours of free entertainment for fans.
If politicised stand-up and comic activism are what you like, you’ll be glad to know Mark Thomas is returning to Coventry later this month with this current show, Trespass. In a similar vein to his previous offering 100 Acts of Minor Dissent, Thomas brings his melange of comedy, journalism and “rabble rousing” (so say the Metropolitan Police) to Warwick Arts Centre on Friday 18th March.
Having also dabbled in theatrical and storytelling works in recent years, Trespass sees Thomas return to fertile ground – campaigning to give ordinary people a voice, and sticking it to the establishment. A veteran of stage, TV and radio, the stand-up’s credentials are well-known and this is sure to be an evening of investigative journalism and revolutionary mirth.
Nature or nurture? You might think you know who you are, and why, but veteran stand-up Mark Steel‘s latest show proved it might not be as clear-cut as you thought. The Radio 4 favourite and cricket fan grew up in Swanley, in Kent, knowing he was adopted, and in Who Do I Think I Am? he told the tale of how he found out the strange truth about his mother and father.
Bridget Christie is one of British comedy’s most distinctive and important voices, so the publication of her debut tome, titled A Book For Her, was bound to garner lots of attention. And with good reason – the 2013 Edinburgh Comedy Award winner has forged a reputation for combining satire and surrealism in order to discuss difficult subjects and big themes, including feminism and FGM.
After hugely successful runs of A Bic For Her and An Ungrateful Woman, she’s embarking on a tour and book signing, with visits to Coventry and Birmingham as part of her nationwide jaunt. It’s a great opportunity to see one of the UK’s finest, and most challenging, stand-ups melding intelligent comedy and silliness better than almost anyone on the circuit. Continue reading “Preview: Q&A with Bridget Christie”