Review: Danny Baker @ Warwick Arts Centre, 5th May 2018

Danny Baker
Danny Baker: From the cradle to the stage

It’s more than 20 years since I first encountered Danny Baker on the airwaves and the experience made an indelible mark. A famed career in front of the TV cameras notwithstanding, it was on the radio where Baker sounded – and felt – most at home, with his hugely popular shows tracing the absurdity of football and everyday life at an almost molecular level. Never had minutiae seemed more vital, or more universal.

In more recent years, Baker’s has turned his enormous skill as a raconteur to books – he’s published three volumes of his autobiography and has hinted on Twitter that there are more to come – and latterly the stage. It’s odd to think that such a masterful storyteller had never graced the boards for a full live tour prior to last year’s Cradle to the Stage outing, but its follow-up Good Time Charlie’s Back has come barely twelve months later. Continue reading “Review: Danny Baker @ Warwick Arts Centre, 5th May 2018”

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Review: Mark Steel @ Warwick Arts Centre, 6th May 2018

Mark Steel
Mark Steel: Alright?

Mark Steel is angry. That isn’t a new thing, as anyone who’s followed the career of the long-time Radio 4 favourite will know, but on his latest tour Steel wasn’t just irate about the current state of UK and world politics, but also had lots to get off his chest about his personal life too.

Titled Every Little Thing Is Gonna Be Alright, this show found him in a slightly different mode than usual, flitting between exasperation at what’s going on in the world and picking at the things about the modern world which confuse and frustrate him, along with tracing the decline of his marriage. Continue reading “Review: Mark Steel @ Warwick Arts Centre, 6th May 2018”

Review: Robin Ince @ Warwick Arts Centre, 13th April 2018

Robin Ince
Robin Ince: Pragmatic Insanity

After taking a break from stand-up for a couple of years, Robin Ince is back on tour with his latest show, Pragmatic Insanity. A lot has changed since his time away from the stage, as he was quick to note at the outset. Yet rather than making up for lost time, he noted that he was going to steer away from Brexit, Trump and the fact that the world is slowly falling apart, given that everyone else had that covered anyway.

Instead, after an opening half-hour or so of Ince’s ambling observations, almost with polite conversation as a form of invective, singer-songwriter Grace Petrie performed support duties with a short set of unusually personal vignettes, a slight departure from her usual, much more politicised material. A regular touring partner of acts such as Ince and Josie Long, among others, it was no surprise that she also shared a gentle humour in between songs. Continue reading “Review: Robin Ince @ Warwick Arts Centre, 13th April 2018”

Review: Mark Thomas @ MAC, 28th February 2018

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

Earlier in the decade, stand-up and activist Mark Thomas performed a show called Walking the Wall – a tale of his “extreme rambling” excursion along the West Bank’s barrier. In his latest tour, Showtime From the Frontline, he recounted his return to the region for a very different type of visit.

Wonderfully aided by Alaa Shehada and Faisal Abualheja, the show detailed his time spent teaching a comedy workshop at the Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Palestinian refugee camp – his co-performers were among the students, and their clowning and acting skills were brought to the forefront here, essaying the different characters among the student cohort and illustrating their experiences. Continue reading “Review: Mark Thomas @ MAC, 28th February 2018”

Review: Alun Cochrane @ Warwick Arts Centre, 25th February 2018

Alun Cochrane
Alun Cochrane: minutiae and mirth

As show titles go, Alunish Cochranish isn’t the most attention-grabbing headline you’ll see, but it is pretty accurate. In fact, it does a remarkable job of signalling what to expect from the Yorkshire-born stand-up – it’s possibly the most ‘Alun Cochrane’ show that Alun Cochrane has ever done.

What that resulted in was an hour of observational comedy – a disjointed collection of stories from Cochrane’s life, performed warmly and in his unmistakably gentle way. After being ably supported by Mike Newall, Cochrane delved into material about sneezing, the prison service, and a host of subjects plucked from everyday life, from which he’d effortlessly wring layers of jokes and relatable whimsy. Continue reading “Review: Alun Cochrane @ Warwick Arts Centre, 25th February 2018”

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.

 

 

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”