Preview: Machynlleth Comedy Festival Showcase @ MAC, 9th February 2018

The Machynlleth Comedy Festival is now one of the UK’s most prestigious, and hotly anticipated, events in the stand-up calendar. Next month, Birmingham’s MAC welcomes five top acts as part of a showcase for the annual event, which takes place in the titular Welsh town.

The gig at MAC on Friday 9th February features a line-up including Joe Lycett, Tom Parry (also of Pappy’s), Mike Bubbins, Rachel Parris (also of Austentatious) and Danny Clives. Tickets (¬£12) are available from the MAC website.

This year’s Machynlleth Comedy Festival takes place from Friday 4th to Sunday 6th May.

 

 

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Review: Daniel Kitson @ The Y, 14th December 2017

Daniel Kitson
Daniel Kitson: A Show For Christmas

There’s something particularly magical and evocative about stories set at Christmas. Whether it’s the work of Charles Dickens, the ghost stories of M.R. James, Doctor Who‘s festive outings, or anything in between – the snow, Christmas trees and spirit of giving help to conjure vivid ideas of late December and all the joys (and, in the case of James, fears) that come with it.

These seasonal ingredients, along with Santa Claus, were firmly in place in Daniel Kitson‘s A Show For Christmas, though this elegantly crafted story wasn’t quite as traditional as you might imagine. Kitson, who has long cemented his place as perhaps the most revered stand-up and storyteller on the British circuit, first performed the show during a run at Battersea Arts Centre in December 2014, and has since taken it Stateside for a run in New York, but this month marks the first time he’s toured it around the UK, including a stop at Leicester’s Y Theatre. Continue reading “Review: Daniel Kitson @ The Y, 14th December 2017”

Preview: Mark Thomas @ MAC, 28th February to 3rd March 2018

Mark Thomas
Showtime from the frontline. Photo by Lesley Martin.

Mark Thomas returns to Birmingham’s MAC in February with a new show about his experiences in Palestine. Setting out to run a comedy club in a refugee camp in the city of Jenin for two nights, Showtime From the Frontline will trace what happened when he tried to do so.

This isn’t the first time the celebrated stand-up and activist has performed a show about a trip to the region, with 2011’s Extreme Rambling – Walking the Wall detailing his own story of visiting the West Bank. This time around he’s joined by¬†Faisal Abualheja and Alaa Shehada, two actors and aspiring stand-ups from Jenin, and you can expect a funny and fascinating evening in the company of one of the UK’s finest storytellers and performers.

Showtime From the Frontline is at MAC in Birmingham each evening from Wednesday 28th February to Saturday 3rd March 2018. Tickets are available from the venue website.

 

Review: No Such Thing As a Fish @ Warwick Arts Centre, 2nd December 2017

No Such Thing As a Fish
Quite interesting: The QI elves host the No Such Thing As a Fish podcast

First broadcast in 2003, QI has become something of an institution. The BBC panel show which shines a spotlight on comedians’ knowledge and ignorance has been running since then with Stephen Fry and now Sandi Toksvig at the helm – along with creator and producer John Lloyd – but it’s behind the scenes where a lot of the (Quite) interesting action happens.

Writers and researchers on the hit TV show, the line-up of Dan Schreiber, James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray and Anna Ptaszynski joined together to create the podcast No Such Thing As a Thing, which acts as a sort of spin-off from, and logical extension of, the parent show. With more than 190 episodes under their collective belts, the podcast is fast becoming a staple of the burgeoning comedy podcast scene in the UK, which seems to be undergoing another boom lately. Continue reading “Review: No Such Thing As a Fish @ Warwick Arts Centre, 2nd December 2017”

Review: The Lost Hancocks – Vacant Lot @ Light House Media Centre, 4th November 2017

The Lost Hancocks: Vacant Lot
Vacant Lot: The premiere of two lost scripts from Larry Stephens, written for Tony Hancock

Larry Stephens, who hailed from West Bromwich, will probably be an unfamiliar name to most, but fans of comedy history will be familiar with his work, on famous shows such as The Goon Show and The Army Game.

The writer, who was a close friend of Tony Hancock, is set to be rediscovered by comedy fans thanks to a biography from author Julie Warren, which is currently looking for backers via publisher Unbound. As part of Warren’s research, she came across two scripts for an unmade sitcom called Vacant Lot. It was likely to feature Goons stars Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, and was written as a vehicle for Hancock to star in. Continue reading “Review: The Lost Hancocks – Vacant Lot @ Light House Media Centre, 4th November 2017”

Review: Milton Jones @ Warwick Arts Centre, 28th October 2017

Milton Jones
Milton Jones: Surreal one-liners which are truly Out There

Gag merchant Milton Jones has been a mainstay of Britain’s stand-up circuit for quite some time now, though it took a number of years before he graduated to playing rooms the size of Warwick Arts Centre‘s Butterworth Hall. A deserved beneficiary of a television boost, thanks to his regular appearances on the long-running panel show Mock the Week, his relentless stream of perfectly-formed one-liners have won him a large following.

Before his belated TV exposure, though, Jones has been entertaining Radio 4 listeners for many years with his joke-packed sitcom series, and of course his frequent touring schedule is now as anticipated as his wild hair and brightly-patterned shirts. Continue reading “Review: Milton Jones @ Warwick Arts Centre, 28th October 2017”

Review: Simon Amstell @ Warwick Arts Centre, 7th October 2017

Simon Amstell
Simon Amstell: What is this?

Returning to Coventry with his new show, What Is This?, Simon Amstell was back on the stage in the wake of the publication of his book, Help. With a searingly honest set, this was undoubtedly a show of two very different halves.

First up was support act Mawaan Rizwan, who entertained with a combination of songs, stand-up and clowning. In a short set strewn with some deftly-written jokes, it was hard to escape the idea that this presented a stark contrast in tone with what was to follow, but Rizwan – a talented performer who clearly knows how to work a room – was more than up to the task of providing a strong start to the show. Continue reading “Review: Simon Amstell @ Warwick Arts Centre, 7th October 2017”

Review: Festival of the Spoken Nerd @ Warwick Arts Centre, 6th October 2017

Festival of the Spoken Nerd
Festival of the Spoken Nerd. Image: Idil Sukan

Back with a new show, titled You Can’t Polish a Nerd, the science-comedy crossover three-piece Festival of the Spoken Nerd once again brought their love of nerd-dom to the stage, proving laughs and lab coats can go together.

Comprising Helen Arney, Steve Mould and Matt Parker, the trio have very defined roles which they each brought to the show, though some of the most enjoyable moments stemmed from faux-competitiveness and some gentle ribbing after mistakes. Continue reading “Review: Festival of the Spoken Nerd @ Warwick Arts Centre, 6th October 2017”

The Guilty Feminist Podcast @ Warwick Arts Centre, 8th June 2017

The Guilty Feminist Podcast
The Guilty Feminist Podcast: the smartest podcast in town
A major entertainment form for more than a decade now, podcasts are often talked about in the same tones as the latest acclaimed TV series from HBO, Netflix..
And while there are now surely podcasts about most imaginable topics, made by people from disparate fields, comedians were among the earliest adopters of the medium and remain among the most high-profile artists producing regular shows. In both the UK and US, with traditional broadcast opportunities at a premium, podcasting is a valuable outlet for writers/performers and audiences alike.

Continue reading “The Guilty Feminist Podcast @ Warwick Arts Centre, 8th June 2017”

Stewart Lee @ Warwick Arts Centre, 11th May 2017

Stewart Lee
Stewart Lee: Content provider

When is a show about Brexit and Trump not about Brexit and Trump? Stewart Lee‘s latest effort was an essay on the social media-driven cultural landscape, refracted through a prism of 2016’s EU referendum and US presidential election. Set against a backdrop of cheap stand-up DVDs and an artistic framing device, Content Provider was yet another triumph from a performer who has steadily grown his fan-base in similar proportion to his critical acclaim.

His first proper show since Carpet Remnant World, having concentrated for a few years on running in material for his Comedy Vehicle TV series, didn’t merely focus on the volatile political climate, also taking in music, Game of Thrones, and the commercialisation of S&M. All were fertile ground, and Lee didn’t disappoint even on such disparate topics. Continue reading “Stewart Lee @ Warwick Arts Centre, 11th May 2017”