Friday 21st July

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Spencer Jones: The Audition, Edinburgh preview

In the first of our Edinburgh Fringe previews, Ian Cater speaks to Spencer Jones about his latest weird and wonderful outing of physical comedy and clowning in The Audition.

There are few certainties in life, apart from death, taxes and a male Dr Who.  But one thing’s become so likely over the past three years as to reach a rung marked ‘inevitable’: there won’t be a more effective clown performing at Edinburgh next month than Spencer Jones.

The South-East Londoner has carved out a niche at the Fringe and in the wider comedy industry, reclaiming the role of Le Bouffon which had fallen from favour since Tommy Cooper died in 1984.  Many tried to revive the belittled art form in the UK; many failed, until Jones introduced his alter ego – The Herbert – who arrives on stage with an odd haircut, translucent leggings and all sorts of accoutrements to be utilised for a 10 second visual gag.

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Category: Comedy
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Wil Greenway: The Way The City Ate The Stars review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Greenway elevates the art of storytelling with this lyrical, moving, funny and compassionate tale of love and tragedy in New South Wales.

Eleven months ago, I reviewed Sarah Kendall’s show, Shaken.  In hindsight, and having listened to more of her work since on Radio 4, she perhaps deserved more than three stars.  However, I stand by the assertion that for storytelling to work effectively live, “it needs a higher laughter-count, or a more vulnerable and relatable narrator.  Kendall’s very talented, but projects an Antipodean toughness from the moment she bounds onstage talking forcefully about dick drawings and bowel movements.  As a result, she finds it hard to generate much sympathy from an admittedly difficult crowd, necessary before embarking on a story that portrays her younger self so unfavourably.”

I restate this to contrast Kendall’s countryman, Wil Greenway, who last night delivered an equally challenging story at Soho Theatre with a different outcome.  When he entered the stage after a short introduction from his folksy, melodious backing musicians (Will Galloway and Kathryn Langshaw), I was ready for a similarly forthright, Kendall-esque approach, given the Melburnian’s solid frame, thick auburn beard and topknot.  But it quickly became clear that Greenway’s a gentler type of performer and someone who could end up going very far.

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Category: Comedy
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Heroes: Jimmy Wales Meets Stewart Lee

Last Wednesday, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales interviewed British stand-up, writer and director Stewart Lee in a fascinating conversation hosted by The School of Life.  The event was the latest in the organisation’s ‘Heroes’ series, in which leading cultural figures get to question someone they admire from a different industry – a format giving fascinating insights into both interviewer and interviewee.

Ian Cater was there for What’s On London to hear what Wales could draw from one of Britain’s greatest living comedians and contrarians.

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Category: Comedy
London

What’s On, London? 16th – 18th June 2017

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

It’s been another tragic week for London with the full consequences of the Grenfell Tower fire still emerging.  One thing’s clear: never again can people be exposed to such danger.  Londoners must do all we can to ensure our politicians act quickly to help those affected and prevent any repeat.  The only silver lining to this awful cloud has been the response: money donated, items provided and fundraising efforts set in motion.  So while again we have no choice but to try to carry on with our lives, making the most of the positive things happening in our city (listed below), we include a special section highlighting the events coming up to raise funds for the victims and their families.

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Category: Clubs
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Tom Green: “I’ve made my comedy less polarising. It’s still edgy, ridiculous and outrageous – but there’s a point to it.”

This Saturday, Tom Green concludes his first UK tour with two performances of his European Comedy Road Trip at O2 Academy Islington.  

The one-time ‘wild child’ of MTV and – his critics would say – purveyor of poor taste has mellowed a little, returning to his stand-up roots to hone a show Green calls his best work yet.  Including segments of improvisational comedy and rap, it promises to be a performance packed full of energy, anecdotes and cracked observations on the world we live in.

Ahead of the shows, Ian Cater spoke to Green about his stand-up style and a career that’s seen the Canadian marry Drew Barrymore, fine dine with Prince Charles and get fired by Donald Trump.

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Category: Comedy
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Rose Matafeo: “Apart from the coffin on-stage, the show isn’t morbid. It’s actually pretty silly and inappropriate.”

This Thursday, rising star Rose Matafeo returns to Soho Theatre for the last three performances of her 2016 Fringe hit, Rose Matafeo Is Finally Dead.  The show – a clever blend of stand-up and sketch-play – earned the endearing Aucklander rave reviews last year, which have reverberated around the comedy industry since.  

Matafeo returns to Edinburgh this August to deliver her new show, Sassy Best Friend, which she’s also presently previewing across London.  But before putting Finally Dead to bed, she spoke to Ian Cater about her compulsion for control, well-hidden laziness and Tweed-clad fans.

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Category: Comedy
London

What’s On, London? 8th – 11th June 2017

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Last weekend was a tragic one for London.  But we can’t let mindless, hateful morons stop us doing what we do best: making the most of the amazing things this great city has to offer everyone – whatever your tastes and interests.  We carry on.  We must and we will.  With that in mind, the next few days offer plenty of opportunities for Londoners to seek escapism, to laugh and to marvel at the creative contributions people make to our shared culture every day.

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Category: Art
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Croft & Pearce: Croft & Pearce Are Not Alone review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Croft & Pearce produce a set of entertaining sketches, interwoven storylines and clever dissection of British society which nearly match their first-class delivery.

While sketch comedy inexplicably continues to toil in the minds of television commissioners, it repeatedly excels in live venues across London and beyond.  As a case in point, this week saw Croft & Pearce take over the Museum of Comedy for five nights and impress with their entertaining sketches, interwoven storylines and clever dissection of British society, cutting across gender, class and geography with assured ease.

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Category: Comedy