Friday 24th November

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Tony Law: “My goal is to create an hour where everyone’s laughing – all of us – but nobody really knows why.”

Next month award-winning absurdist Tony Law brings his comedy-art to Soho Theatre for two nights of surreal silliness at the start of a national tour.  In his latest show – A Law Undo His-elf What Welcome – Law whisks the audience away on a wild trip into his imagination: a world of jokes, stories and performance art.  Although he rarely disappoints, Law told Ian Cater that he believes he’s back to his very best, which is welcome news from a true master of his craft.

Given the vast number of comedians holding mics in pubs, theatres and stadia across London on any night of the week, it’s hard to describe any as truly unique.  But in Tony Law’s case, the cap fits perfectly.  The Canadian – who’s lived in London for nearly 30 years and now sees himself as a ‘citizen of the world’ – has perfected an unusual blend of comedy and absurdist art which audiences lap up without always understanding the reasons.

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Category: Art
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Tony Law: A Law Undo His-Elf What Welcome, 21st – 29th October 2016 at Leicester Square Theatre

Tonight, award-winning absurdist comedian Tony Law brings his special brand of comedy-art to Leicester Square Theatre for seven nights of surreal silliness with new show A Law Undo His-Elf What Welcome.  The Canadian, known as one of the most unique performers on the comedy circuit, whisks his audiences away on a trip into his imagination – a world of jokes, stories and performance art.

Although Law rarely disappoints, he told Ian Cater that he believes he’s back to his very best: welcome news from a true master of his craft.

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Category: Art
©Richard-Davenport

Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Austentatious perform the very best improvised comedy, blowing the audience away with their talent, timing and interaction.  Even those who hate Austen can love this.

I’d like to start with a confession: I didn’t think I’d massively enjoy watching Austentatious.  That’s despite the mountain of top-marks and awards the troupe has earned.  Despite liking all of its cast members from first-hand experience or by reputation.  And despite appreciating that Austen provides a good backdrop for improvised comedy (as Daniel Nils Roberts explained to me).

The problem was that I hated reading Pride and Prejudice at school and always found the Regency era a bit … well, twee.  So it’s even more impressive that the performers completely won me round, turning in one of the funniest and most watchable shows of the Fringe.

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Category: Comedy
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Orlando Baxter: Suspensions, Detentions and Summer Vacations review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Although a likeable comic with good potential, Baxter’s show is too light on laughs and untailored to the Fringe crowd.

First, the good stuff.  Orlando Baxter’s an immediately engaging performer, clearly passionate about the good work he did in his previous life as a high school teacher in Worcester, Massachusetts.  That time – dealing with kids put into detention for making cat noises, wearing pyjamas or getting head in class – throws up some good stories, even if the punchlines could be hit a little harder.

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Category: Comedy
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Beth Vyse: As Funny As Cancer, Edinburgh Preview

In our third Edinburgh Fringe preview, Ian Cater meets actress and comedian Beth Vyse to discuss her moving, deeply personal and remarkably entertaining show, As Funny as Cancer, which she is performing daily at Gilded Balloon at the Counting House.

“It really seems to me that in the midst of great tragedy,” said the American science fiction author Philip K. Dick, “there is always the horrible possibility that something terribly funny will happen.”  Dick was right, of course: humour isn’t reserved for the happy or mundane.  But if the “horrible possibility” arises in darker times, the challenge isn’t in spotting it, but in knowing how to react.

Fortunately, in Beth Vyse’s Edinburgh show – As Funny As Cancer – the audience has little choice but to laugh along as Vyse tells them about her diagnosis with breast cancer at 29 and mastectomy days later.

That’s partly because Vyse has come through it – given the all clear last year – and partly because, in her unique style, the show regularly verges into the madcap and surreal.  It’s hard to stay sombre when the narrator is dressed as Dolly Parton and handing out table tennis balls to the crowd.

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Category: Comedy
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George Egg: Anarchist Cook, 20-21 May at Soho Theatre

George Egg has been a much-loved member of the comedy circuit for nearly 20 years, having started out as a street performer in Covent Garden in the late 1990s.  He’s a true entertainer, often compared to the late, great Tommy Cooper due to his stage presence, timing and taste for magic.  

Ahead of his Anarchist Cook live shows in London at the Soho Theatre on 20th and 21st May 2016, Ian Cater of What’s On London caught up with George to discuss hotel trouser presses, scrambled eggs and TV chefs.

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Category: Comedy
Sheridan Smith © Johan Persson
Sheridan Smith © Johan Persson

Funny Girl: Sheridan Smith produces the West End performance of the year

Rating:

Written by Sandip Kana

Barbara Streisand’s iconic performances as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl on Broadway – and then in the Oscar-winning film – really immortalised the character.  So her rendition would always be the marker by which any revival would be measured against.  However, the West End transfer from the Menier Chocolate Factory production is nothing but stunning.

In her performance at The Savoy Theatre, Sheridan Smith successfully reinvents the character and steps out of the shadow of Streisand’s performance, conveying with great skill and heart the story of Fanny to a new generation of theatre-lovers.  Judging by the standing ovation at the end of the performance the audience loved every second.

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Category: Theatre
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Mark Thomas: ‘Trespass’ at The Tricycle, 25th April – 7th May

By Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Next week, Mark Thomas begins a two-week residency at Kilburn’s The Tricycle in the latest leg of his Trespass tour.  If you think age might have mellowed one of the bête noirs of the 1990s, guess again: Thomas is as frustrated as ever with what’s being allowed to happen to his country – this time its public spaces.

And frustration brings the best out of him, propelling him into another mish-mash of storytelling, stand-up, activism and journalism that makes his act truly unique.  As long as the world is an imperfect place, you sense that Mark Thomas will stick around to point it out.  But, to be safe, head to see a master at work while you can.

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Category: Comedy