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”

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: 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”