Spoonfed.co.uk review of Lyric Hammersmith gig Sept 21 08
Comedy Nights at The Lyric
Richard Herring has been hosting the Hammersmith Lyric comedy nights since this time last year and they have been a phenomenal success, mainly due to the quality of the acts he manages to get on board.
Over three dates this autumn (the first just gone), Stewart Lee is sharing the stage with his old stand-up partner Herring after ten years of going solo. Although both are doing separate slots, it is great to see them on the same billing â€“ neither have material that has dated or have lost the ability to make people laugh and seeing two comedy legends like this still leaving people in hysterics makes for a very enjoyable night.
The Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith is completely sold out for this September date and sitting in the Upper Circle gives you a good bird's eye view of just how popular this gig is. As Herring introduces the night he asks the crowd who has been here before and at the end asks who is coming next month. At least a third answers yes to both questions and there is almost a community feel to the event, like locals and fans have been looking forward to it all month. After the usual audience warm-up banter, he follows up with some material from his latest show The Headmaster's Son and a bit on asking women on dates. One woman in particular told him: "I wouldn't piss on you if you were in fire". "What if I wasn't on fire?", Herring asked her.
This is the third time I have seen Stewart Lee live and he has up to now, always been the headline act so seeing him first is a real surprise and speaks volumes of the confidence in the line-up. Tonight it is all new stuff which is a real treat; no matter how good a gag is, if it's the second time you've heard it never quite has you in the fits of giggles it did the first time. He has two main points to make about why he fears modern civilisation is in fear of collapse â€“ one is the farcical celebrities and companies that make money out of it. Examples of Chris Moyles and Asher D from the So Solid Crew are used to great effect with accompanying quotes from their diabolical autobiographies. Another example of modern culture has him particularly perplexed after he notices the Yo Sushi! chain has named a meal after the infamous Joy Divison song 'Love Will Tear Us Apart': "Does Ian Curtis's widow go into Yo Sushi!... and look at a small parcel of fish... and think...yes...that's what he would have wanted?"
Another reason our culture is overflowing with so much rubbish at the moment, is that we are the saps who are maintaining it and buying into it. He points out we consistently vote the 'Del Boy falling into the bar' scene from Only Fools and Horses the funniest thing seen on television and to underline this he does his own physical routine which winds up the set perfectly as he leaves us all questioning with a final twist, why slapstick deserves so much merit in comedy. I love watching Lee because he does jokes, or stories really, made up of facts, stuff he's picked up and views he has on society, that are expertly delivered with pace and wit and leave you feeling like you've seen the best kind of comedy there is living and breathing today.
Following him in the second half are Dan Antopolski and Andrew Lawrence. Antopolski has had mixed reviews in the past and tonight is another hit and miss set. He has some surreal touches which work well including a rap about sandwiches which includes the line: 'never go on a picnic with Ultravox' but an imaginary conversation about two worms talking to each other goes on for far too long and seems self-indulgent when he finds it funnier than the audience.
Andrew Lawrence is the headline act and has a great opener: "I want to make a good impression but it's not easy when you have the demeanour of man who might have spent many years working in a Jersey care home." He does self-deprecation very well and uses his odd looks and high pitched voice to his advantage imitating hairdressers or posh organic food producers. Some of his long winded rants seem designed to shock with grotesque imagery and free-flowing obscenities; when he slows down and adopts a more conversational tone, it works better. He comes out with some cracking one-liners:"Someone said to me I could be a comedian if I had the material. Could you? I could be crisps if I was made of potatoes", but the finish which tries to blackmail the audience into a standing ovation with the threat of spreading his shit all over them seems a bit crude and basic. Luckily there's a good Maddie gag in there that lifts the toilet humour to a wittier sick level.
November's Comedy Night is the last one and has completely sold-out so if you want to go to one of these gigs, buy your October ticket immediately as there are only 100 tickets left.