IN this festive season of profligate gift buying, shelves are overrun with the best efforts of comedians burnt eternally onto DVDs (or Blu-ray if you’re feeling particularly avant-garde).
Likewise, a great many comics who were selling well in October and November now find themselves in the bargain bin.
As melancholic Brits we like nothing better than a good laugh at Christmas and, as such, there is a smörgåsbord of possibilities provided by retailers and television schedulers.
Nothing, however, beats the buzz and excitement of seeing live stand-up comedy.
Canadian maverick, Tony Law, opened the show with surreal poise. Never straying far from the inconceivable, he led the audience through an off-the-wall and clever landscape whilst always navigating round stand-up conventions and clichés.
Self-promoted as ‘dangerous’, Tony is certainly an act that gets funnier as the evening progresses; it would be good to see him headline in 2012.
If Tony Law bounded about the stage like a pet who is reluctantly house trained, Anthony King’s deadpan style and unhurried delivery was more in keeping with that of Droopy, the cartoon basset hound. Elegantly mournful, his songs, anecdotes and one-liners were all perfectly timed. With an ever-present twinkle in his eye, this was an incredibly polished set.
Delayed by traffic and a lackadaisical Sat Nav, headliner Hal Cruttenden went from car to stage and launched into his theories on reducing stress.
As if making up for lost time – time which had been hilariously filled by Tony Law (again!) who repeated the words ‘Gok’ and ‘Wan’ for five minutes – Hal’s gags and stories were delivered with unrelenting amounts of energy and vigour.
Brilliant from start to finish, this was one of the best sets I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing.
Weaving masterfully between the observational, the political and the absurd, none of his material ever fell short of brilliance.
Holding it all together was Tom Taylor and his miniature children’s keyboard.
His second song about the Turkish Baths sex scandal was a devilish masterpiece; current, edgy and a little bit risqué, it provided some of the biggest laughs of the night.
Almost unrecognisable to the comic who performed in July, this didn’t feel like an amateur song on a pro bill.
It is an incredible achievement to have put together five such varied shows, each one hilarious. I, and many others, look forward to sitting room’s return in 2012.