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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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”