Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Greenwich Comedy Festival

Stephen K Amos, Chris Ramsey, Richard Herring, Andrew Maxwell

Review by Colin Dibben

A rainy late summer evening by the river in Greenwich, in the grounds of the grand Old Naval College ... water dripping off the big tent eaves – it all seemed to put people into a mellow mood tinged with a soupcon of autumnal regret. Once inside the Big Top however, the buzz was palpable. Here were people all set to commune together with the gods of laughter...

The evening’s compere, big-floppy-haired Geordie Chris Ramsey, was consistently spot on – engaging and affable with some great situation gags riffing off his natural energy. Chris initiated one of the themes of the evening by pre-emptive heckling of a hapless South African dolphin trainer in the audience...

Andrew Maxwell’s languid delivery and catching titter were beautifully suited to his brand of observational humour, taking on Big Subjects with a fresh approach – his War on Terror on your street gag got one of the biggest cheers of the evening.

Fast-paced, rattled-off knob jokes were much in evidence during Richard Herring’s stretch – proving that the comedy of despair is alive and as histrionic as ever. Personal preference, but I for one would have liked to hear more of the Philosopher King material and less about the smegma of bed-ridden old men.

Headlining, Nigerian-extraction, gay, South-west Londoner Stephen K Amos went for the long-haul and the crowd loved every minute of it. His confident and charming gig contained family-based anecdotes that had peeps empathising like crazy, as well as personal takes on Big Subjects like racism and sex. Slightly uneasier, I thought, was his constant pigeonholing of “young people”.

But anyway, he worked the crowd brilliantly, again and again and in different ways... one young man will not be masturbating for some time to come, I fear.

It seems to me that the event of live comedy is unique in our cultural lives: where else do you go to be with other people and remain in such a positive state of mind, with such a generous collective attitude to the peaks and troughs of the performer you are witnessing?

Get thee down to Greenwich for the rest of the festival, but be warned: tickets are selling fast!

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