Wednesday, 9 December 2009


Over the last few months, Mr A and I have treated ourselves to a number of comedy gigs at Warwick Arts Centre. We have seen Reginald D Hunter (and support), Milton Jones (and support), Adam Hills, Rob Brydon (and support) and Marcus Brigstocke. It has been quite the most concentrated set of visits to one theatrical venue that I can ever remember.

Warwick Arts Centre is on the campus of Warwick University, which is technically located in Coventry rather than Warwick. This gives comics a little trouble, because traditionally a performer will start off with some 'local' jokes, picked up through reading a local paper or asking a local resident about local issues. This would work for a venue in a town centre, where the majority of the audience will have experience of that place. But I think the WAC audience consists of mostly middle class professional people from Warwick, Leamington, Kenilworth, and Warwickshire villages. Coventry residents and Warwick uni students are in the minority. Mr A and I never visit Coventry - the nearest I get is the ring road on the way to some badminton venue.

[One comedian we saw a few years ago misjudged the audience spectacularly, because presumably he thought a campus gig would be full of students. He made some 'hilarious' comments at the expense of taxpayers, which were met with unsmiling silence since the 99% taxpaying audience didn't find the idea of ripping off taxpayers very funny.]

Anyway, here's how it went:

Reg D Hunter was very good, despite our seat location in the front row (the tickets were returns, I had no choice). Proper funny. His support act was unpleasant though - a shouty, opinionated, hairy Australian delivered a ranty set including diatribes against 'political correctness' and 'health and safety', both of which are NOT utterly pointless.

Reg D Hunter: 8/10. Support act: 1/10.

I love Milton Jones for his very dry one-liners - he reminded me of Tommy Cooper's way of throwing out a line that you realise a second or two later is hilarious once you've worked it out. His support act seemed quite young and inexperienced, which put me on edge in case he bombed, but he just about got through.

Milton Jones: 7/10. Support act: 5/10.

Next came Adam Hills, who did the whole gig himself, no support, and was pretty good. It was a shame, though, because although it's traditional to pick on people in the front row of comedy gigs, he chose to pick on a 17 year-old lad who really didn't want the attention. He should have let it go and moved on, but he persisted, even into the second half, and Mr A said he just stopped enjoying it because this lad was having such a bad time.

Adam Hills: 6/10, but would have been higher if he'd left the boy alone.

Then Rob Brydon, who's actually famous. Nobody's heard of Milton Jones, but once you mention the Welsh one in Gavin and Stacey, people know Rob Brydon. He had a very funny and expert support act, whose best line was at the start when some latecomers arrived: "Rob's not here so we're all having a go - I'm from Row G." Rob himself did about 90 minutes after the interval - in fact, it ended so late that we couldn't even get a pint in the pub when we got home. He was the most actorly and rehearsed, even though there was a fair amount of audience interaction - again, interacting with the middle classes isn't very funny without a lot of rowdy students.

Rob Brydon: 8/10. Support act: 7/10.

Now we come on to Marcus Brigstocke. I've had tickets to see Marcus before at WAC, but forgot to go, which was one of the most furiously annoying things that has ever happened to me. I have seen him before, at Ealing Comedy Festival with Lola II and nephew 1, but that was just a short set and he wasn't even headlining. I loved it. The interesting thing is that he was probably just as shouty and opinionated as Reg D Hunter's support act, but this time I agreed with him, so that made it OK.

Marcus Brigstocke: 9/10.

I rather prefer comedy gigs to music, although it's hard to beat some good old-fashioned dancin'. Previous comedians wot I 'ave seen over the years have been:
  • Paul Merton - obviously a consummate professional
  • Eddie Izzard - I probably laughed the most at this one
  • Ed Byrne - pretty good even before he was very famous
  • Ross Noble - can go a bit off track, but funny nevertheless
  • Lee Mack - love him
  • Rich Hall - love him mo'
  • Steve Coogan - a long long time ago when he was doing stand up, not great
  • Jack Dee - I actually can't remember much about this one, because I was only there for the support act who was:
  • Richard Morton - hardly well-known at all, but I think he's wonderful
  • Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis - a double act really helps with stand up
  • Bill Bailey - impressed at his musical skill as well as the surreal comedy
  • Dr Phil Hammond - this is the one that my parents should see, but he doesn't seem to be touring any more
  • A recording of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue: Graeme Garden, Barry Cryer, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Tony Hawks on this occasion, with Humphrey Lyttleton - what a wonderful show that is
  • Richard Herring - a very little gig, but it was in Leamington (reviewed here)
  • Jeremy Hardy - he's a very funny man
  • Sue Perkins - I expected to laugh more than I did at this one
  • Linda Smith - I loved her, but sadly no longer with us
  • David Mitchell and Robert Webb - Their live gig didn't grab me like their TV stuff does.
There are more, but I haven't included the ones where I remember I was there but can't remember anything else about it. I'm quite surprised, not just at the number of different comedians, but also at how clearly I remember the gigs, some of which were over 15 years ago.


aims said...

Well - since I don't know anyone - what can I say?

Glad you had a good time anyway.

Lola said...

Yup, they're all UK performers, although Reg D Hunter and Rich Hall are originally from USA (and Adam Hills is Australian).

Thanks for coming over to comment - I'm still reading Big Blue Barn West but not commenting at the moment.

PurestGreen said...

I admit I didn't know who some of the people were. I long to see Bill Bailey but the tickets are around £40 so that's not going to happen. Saw dara o'briain last year and it was good but the sound wasn't great and he talks a mile a minute so it was hard to understand him at times. What a quick wit though. Best comedy gig (not that I've been to many) was Dylan Moran in August. I just love him and would definitely see him again.

I hopped over here from Monkey's blog. I am PurestGreen, indeed named from Blackadder. So few people ask - I always love it when someone "gets it."

Anonymous said...

Milton Jones is hilarious- comes across well on Radio 4. I love Marcus Brigstocke too. He is so vicious!