Greenwich Comedy Festival, Russell Howard
Andrew Mickel10 September 2009
Lucy Porter. Phil Kay. Russell Howard. Craig Campbell as compere - this isn’t a gig, this is a one night comedy carnival.
A small one in a tent outside the old Royal Naval College on a Wednesday night, but a carnival nonetheless.
Part of the first year of the Greenwich Comedy Festival (A comedy festival. In London. I know - truly, truly amazing) 1500 lovely middle class comedy-loving folk single-filed their way into a marquee and watched four comedians on the top of their game make them laugh, very, very hard.
First of all, Lucy Porter, who opened weakly with two jokes most Mock The Week's fans will have already heard (and with Russell Howard headlining, there were more than a few in the audience) rallied as she went on, reading out some dubious phrases from one of the lesser established English-Thai phrasebooks and telling a great story about changing how you can change your telephone banking's 'secret question' .
Playing up her kookiness, she maintained her slightly deranged image throughout, but nowhere near the levels of Phil Kay, who swung from the stage's scaffolding like an ape, only restricted by his microphone cable.
As if that matters to Kay. Strolling into the crowd and bellowing "I don't even NEED a microphone!" his semi-demented shtick didn't work as well as it might in a smaller, more intimate venue, but he still choked a few chuckles out of the audience, even if it was obvious many (at the back, especially) didn't really get the 'joke'.
The guitar was whipped out, contagious diseases sung about, before the set abruptly ended, rounding off at around the 15 minutes mark - though the crowd didn't much care, what with Mr Howard's imminent arrival.
The panel show favourite did not disappoint, even if he did reuse material from his recent Dingledodies tour (telling us about the time he impersonated the Churchill dog in bed; closing with the swimming costume wrestlers story) there was still plenty of brilliant, sparkly fresh stuff in there (singing "I rimmed a tramp and I liked it" to the tune of Katy Perry's hit amongst other things).
It's noticeable how much more adult he's willing to let his material become on stage, using phrases in a way he just wouldn’t a few years ago, becoming a touch naughtier throughout the set but the infectious jollity is still there. The sugar-high smile and the manic, electric delivery his legions of fans adore him for, and he's still popping out the comic 'Wess Cunry' accent as and when though he's becoming a bit more self-aware in an Eddie Izzardish way when his jokes (very rarely) fall flat.
It's safe to say his 'meteroric rise' shows no sign of stopping and even shinier stardom beckons in the near future - expect sold-out shows whenever, wherever, for the foreseeable future.
Your rating: None
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