Leicester Comedy Festival review: Paul Smith at the Haymarket Theatre

PaulSmithFollowing_680x680Review by James Cannell

There is no doubt that Paul Smith is not only the hero that comedy deserves right now, but the comedian that it needs. His quick wit and hilarious banter have made him a standout star, he is easily deserving of his name the ‘Ginger King of Comedy’.

Paul’s new show, Following, is clearly not for the easily offended. It became evident from the moment he stepped on stage, his exchanges with his audience could easily be perceived as victimising. But there is more to it talent than that.

The audience interactions that Smith has become famous for on Facebook seemed absent from this show, but it didn’t stop him from putting on a hysterical show, his relatability and down-to-earth nature was perfectly reflected by his anecdotal comedy.

Many of the stories Smith told relied on the empathy of the audience, whether it was about a wedding night, dieting setbacks or pubic mishaps. There was something for everyone, if not everything. It is fair to say that Paul Smith is the voice of the people.

It is one thing for an audience to enjoy a comedian’s performance. It is quite another to see a comedian enjoying his own performance. Smith may pretend that he still has not come to grips with his rising reputation, but his ego definitely has. The exudes happiness and glee, something you don’t see much anymore.

Smith introduced his friend Phil Chapman as his interval act. He was very edgy too, especially for a Leicester audience.

Both comics’ jokes borderline on the offensive, as they dipped their toes into aspects of black comedy. However, they never pushed past that point. The pair of friends have an obviously understanding between where humour starts, and defamation begins.

Smith has never shied away from swearing or talking about drugs, it is clear why the show has an age restriction. His ability to talk freely about such taboos is making him a talking point for the younger generation, and an even bigger spectacle online.

Paul became a finalist for Leicester Comedian of the Year last time, since then he has been crowned Liverpool’s Comedian of the year. He may still be able to walk down the street without being recognised, but there is little doubt, he most definitely will become a household name before the new year breaks.

 

Leicester Comedy Festival review: Myra DuBois at the Cookie

MyraDuBoisDeadFunny_680x680Review by Emily Pratchett

An effortless ability to draw in a crowd with a swift wit, sensational singing and shameless character – Myra DuBois is simply a gift that keeps on giving.

A funeral is no laughing matter, but DuBois makes one hell of an event, if it is your time to go better do it with some flare and jazz hands. What do you expect from the theme ‘Dead Funny’ anyway?

Myra DuBois – the persona taken on by Gareth Joyner – is the self-proclaimed ‘Siren of South Yorkshire’ is an act of drag-queen character genius, propelling her way through the comedy industry, from the Edinburgh Fringe to BBC1’s The John Bishop Show, leaving a trail of sequins, glitter and hairspray cans behind her. Of course, no one ever said glamour would be easy.

Faults in the show? None spring to mind, and the Cookie reverberated with laughter.

Although saying that it was her life-long dream to perform in a basement in Leicester, it did not seem that way. But the stage served both the audience and the performer well.

It was clear that somebody with a big personality is meant for a bigger stage, somewhere more open, as it was commented that rather than a comedy gig, it felt more like a hostage situation.

To keep to the theme of it being the ‘Death of Myra DuBois’, her show ‘Dead Funny’ was light-hearted with some dark humour thrown around in places. Enough to get the crowd’s laughter going but not so sensitive that it would clear a room. A healthy combination.

The performance was lively and upbeat, no awkward silences or tumbleweeds rolling across the room. She kept it light, joyful and conversational through getting to know her audience and not just the front row.  No one was safe from a little torment. A light audience participation never hurt anyone, except maybe some introverts.

DuBois welcomes both new and old fans with open arms, calling them newfound ‘AdMyra’s’ (catchy) showing them gratitude for them taking time out to watch her show. As they leave the show, she thanks them individually at the door, hoping she had wowed them enough that they’ll see her again. A truly unmissable performer.

Leicester Comedy Festival review: Jack Barry at Brewdog

JackBarryAlien_680x680Review by Aleksandra Brzezicka

Ladies and gentleman, here comes the canary man (respect for the yellow-on-yellow jumpsuit). The self-described basic bitch and a wonderful lover. The first one to bring comedy to the London Eye and tremendously fail. Jack Barry, at BrewDog.

Barry’s show Alien took us on the most banal tour ever, through the glory and gory details of everyday life. It’s a show that makes you feel like you’re back at your flat, cracking jokes, drinking beer, smoking pot and gossiping like teenage girls about your smelly cousin Dave and crippling social anxiety.

And Barry himself makes you feel like you’ve known each other for five years, not minutes. He knows your name; you know that he once wet the bed as an adult. Friends forever. After all, as a former Facebook and Twitter guru for KFC, he’s a national hero or chicken paedophile. You decide.

He’s got a problem with oversharing, so we’ve found out all the juicy bits about Martina from Argentina, aka his foreign girlfriend, aka an endless source of anecdotes. Bruce Wayne is Bruno Diaz over there. Some of us won’t recover from that information. So she’s foreign and Barry makes sure that the audience notices that too, bringing up the immigrant topic about 60+ times during 60 minutes show. His balancing on the racism border, even when it came to the China taboo theme, was well-handled. Perhaps because he doesn’t believe in boundaries at all. After all, he finds ‘suck my d***’ to be a compliment, not an insult.

Now, Leicester’s great, London’s great, England’s great. British people are not a bad as they paint them. Except that sometimes they are. And while you’re just sitting there, checking your phones for coronavirus updates, Jack Berry is trying to make England a bit less hostile. Not bad, mate. Not bad at all. You can suck my d***.

Leicester Comedy Festival review: Scott Bennett at Peter Pizzeria

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Review by Jessica Bradley

My name is Scott and I’m a stress head. That’s the premise of comedian Scott Bennett’s Relax routine.

With his hilariously honest, self-deprecating yet light-hearted humour, he guided a sold-out audience through an hour-long rant about his own personal life and stresses, and had the whole crowd reduced to tears of laughter.

Including the tales of a broken tumble-dryer, a trip to a monastery, and what it means to be middle-aged, Bennett delivers gag after gag which earned relentless tee-hees, giggles and snorts. Yes, someone actually snorted. And yes, Bennett made a joke about that.

This Yorkshire born and bred comic – he’s midlife crisis personified – has a lot of experience under his belt (Chortle One to Watch 2018 and 2019, Best Show at the Leicester Comedy Festival 2019 nominee, Amused Moose Comedy Award nominee), which reflects in his work. His ability to control the audience with confidence and ease, integrating them into his set, and quick-thinking wit and versatility shows he is destined for something more. Something bigger than the upstairs of a pizzeria – which is already an upgrade from last year’s show above a takeaway.

Bennett delivers a combination of anecdotal comedy with a sprinkling of a wry outlook on the world, the idiocy of modern living and no-baloney logic. Are balding men destined to be monks? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just take the kids to the Travelodge? Is that illegal?

This show does exactly what it says on the tin. It relaxes you. You don’t feel like you are at a comedy gig or watching a performer. It’s like you are at the pub with your mates, pint in hand, sharing the woes of being an adult.

There is no on-stage façade with Scott Bennett. He is simply a middle-aged parent of two, in jeans and a t-shirt, making the audience laugh with his straightforward, familiar comedy.