Spoonfed review of Bush Hall gig 18/6/11
Bush Hall Presents@Bush Hall
20 June, 2011
With four great comics on the line-up, this was always going to be good.
When I first saw the bill for this month’s Bush Hall Presents, I was already somewhat over-excited. You can’t go far wrong when you have Richard Herring, Isy Suttie, Andy Zaltzman and Adam Buxton all on the same line-up. Each is a great comic in their own right, and they’re also all very different performers. This provides a much-needed spark of variety that is often the deciding factor in making nights like this one especially enjoyable.
I’ve never seen Richard Herring as a compere before, but he turns out to be brilliant. He does only a couple of prepared pieces of material all night; the rest of the evening, he just banters with the crowd, and proves as naturally funny in this mode as he does when performing his written shows.
A particularly enjoyable moment is when he stumbles upon a BBC producer in the front row, who had recently worked on the Royal Wedding. This allows him to interrogate her about intimate details regarding Huw Edwards, as well as bring up his own not-quite-so glittering TV career. I’d never heard of Heads Up with Richard Herring before, a chat show he made for the Poker Channel where he interviewed such lustrous A-list celebrities as ‘Nasty’ Nick Bateman and Michael Greco, but I’m now determined to track it down. Equally amusing is when he later chances upon a charity worker, and angrily berates her for having a discriminatory attitude towards non-orphaned children with worms.
Isy Suttie is the next act on, and she immediately launches into some quirky anecdotes which garner a decent response from the crowd. She is at her best though with her musical routines, particularly her impressions of various female singers down a well, and a hilariously bizarre impersonation of a jazz singer she knew as a child. I also really like the offbeat angle she approaches topics from. However, one problem I have is with the very upbeat and fast-paced delivery she maintains throughout the entirety of the section. This has become the default setting for so many young stand-ups recently, and it really starts to wear on me, even during this short slot. Stand-up is such a free art form; there is tremendous scope for variation in tone and nuance, and it’s a shame more comics don’t exploit this.
Andy Zaltzman proves better in this regard, and he enjoys one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen him have. Apart from a couple of early jibes at the coalition, he steers clear of his more typical political routines, and instead spins us a complex narrative about when he had to help out during the delivery of his own baby. This is a brilliantly written routine that is crammed full of great jokes, comic ideas and evocative language, all of which Zaltzman performs absolutely perfectly. The incredibly enthusiastic reaction he consequently receives from the crowd is richly deserved.
The headline act then is Adam Buxton, and he quickly tells us how he wasn’t enjoying listening backstage to how well Zaltzman was going down. I myself am not sure what to expect, as the last time I saw Buxton live was at a product launch of a new brand of cherry bourbon, and I’m not sure whether he was really as funny as I remember or it was the unnecessary amounts of complementary booze at work.
Nethertheless, things immediately get off to a good start as Richard Herring introduces Buxton by slagging off Joe Cornish, a compliment Buxton amusingly returns with some opening jibes at Stewart Lee. He then moves into his unique laptop based act constructed from filmed sketches, songs, and most enjoyably, the recitation of his favourite YouTube comments. Buxton is one of the most naturally funny comics I have recently seen, and although the comments are funny in themselves, it is his added analysis that makes them so hilarious, and accordingly he outdoes Zaltzman in terms of audience reaction.
This provides a fitting end to a superb night. The show demonstrated the benefits of choosing contrasting acts when constructing a line-up, and with next month’s Bush Hall Presents on July 8th featuring the likes of Tim Key, Simon Munnery, Miles Jupp and James Acaster all on the same bill, it looks like there’s more great comedy still to come.