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Rye Laughs review

| Comedy | 11/12/2017


Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer and Reviewer

Last week saw the final Rye Laughs comedy night of the year and the last ever at Peckham’s The Nines, before it moves to new home Peckham Springs next month.  

In three short years, hosts Rose Johnson and Sarah Nade have built the event – which takes place on the third Wednesday of each month – into one of the most consistently enjoyable around.  And the latest show was a perfect example of what Rye Laughs has to offer: a relaxed environment packed with excellent young comedians bestowing South Londoners with a great blend of material.

Johnson, best known for her work in sketch group Birthday Girls (winner of What’s On London’s Best Sketch Act 2016), makes great use of her network to shape the bill and does a superb job as MC – important given the night’s youthfully rebellious ‘end of term’ feel.  Alongside warming up the room, she’s becoming an impressive standup in her own right with confident, confessional delivery of strongly relatable material.  Johnson also has the sharpness to handle a mixed bill event, keeping in line enthusiastic audience members who consider their witticisms worth hearing.

24775184_1971941843067892_8127733598914810633_nAfter Johnson’s introduction, Harriet Braine (right) performed her quirky brand of musical comedy, close to Isy Suttie in style but with more history of art references.  A smart lyricist, bending to her will and wit tunes by Madonna, Radiohead and Antonio Carlos Jobim, Braine also had people in stitches with less cerebral but hilarious nasal harmonica noises.

Following on was James McNicholas, another known more for sketch comedy with the magnificent BEASTS.  McNicholas was an authoritative presence onstage, peppering self-deprecating observations with deliberately low-brow one-liners and sharp improvisation. And he had the strongest sign-off of the night, with a well-worked interpretive dance pastiche that magically turned raw food into cooked products.

Jenny Bede then delivered a condensed version of Eggtime, the highly-acclaimed show about her urge to have children despite being newly single.  Bede’s slick set ended with a hilariously sarcastic RnB number sending up men who adorn their dating profiles with animal pics (“The animals came in two by two and the way into my pants is through a zoo”).

Nade kicked off the second half with an ode to Jeremy Corbyn and a reworking of The Pogues’ Christmas classic aided by crowd contributions, before Suzi Ruffell moved things up a gear with the sharpest material of the evening.  Ruffell, whose recent shows have focused heavily on class, seemed energised by the freedom to riff on whatever she wanted – from David Attenborough to homophobia, via Naked Attraction – and was fully pumped up after an earlier Twitter spat about Richard Hammond’s dim-witted ‘coming out’ comments.

24862302_1971941766401233_8612375414264693899_nFinally, James Acaster (left) ended the night – and Rye Laugh’s residency at The Nines – in his inimitable style.  Although it’s a cliché, Acaster’s one of those rare comedians who would have audiences in stitches just by reading out a phonebook, with his trademark clipped delivery, long-legged lunges and accusing glares.

So armed with excellent new material, marrying his usual eye for detail with nostalgia for 1999’s solar eclipse and Champions League Final, he seems set for a great 2018 after a year in which he “got dumped, dropped by my agent and shat myself in a steak restaurant.”

Likewise, Rye Laughs should go from strength to strength, despite moving location.  “It’s a bit sad,” Johnson admitted, “because we’ve loved having The Nines as our home for the past two years.  But we’re already excited about our launch night on 24th January at Peckham Springs, where we hope to make Rye Laughs bigger and better than ever.”

‘Rye Laughs’ takes place on the third Wednesday of each month, with the next show taking place at new home Peckham Springs on 24th January.  For more details and tickets, follow Rye Laughs on Twitter @RyeLaughs or head to its Facebook page here.

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