Leicester Comedy Festival review: Stuart Laws at Firebug


Review by Chloe Martin

Stuart Laws comes bursting onto the stage like a bright blue fireball of energy, full of confidence, and raring to wow the audience with his utter masterpiece of a show.

His plan is to come on with Will Smith’s I’m Coming blaring in the background, but the music just isn’t happening. This means Law’s first joke is one he didn’t even crack, with the technician shouting ‘I’m hitting the space bar’ to no avail, creating a whole new gag entirely.

Any who, Laws’ striking bright blue gilet, his distinctive look, makes up for it.

This is a rather small audience, compared to some Laws has grown used to, since supporting James Acaster on his UK tours, performing at Latitude and Wilderness Festival.

He certainly knows a thing or two about his craft, and it’s manifested into his All In performance.

The hour-long show whizzes past with Law’s well-crafted, non-stop ingenious anecdotal gags about a Kinder surprise which literally causes surprise but not in the right way, having a vasectomy – “when I say vasec, you say tomy” – and a trip to Vegas that had the audience showing amused faces for his jokes about poker faces.

This cheeky-chappy southerner soon realises he hasn’t drawn a typical Leicester crowd, and finds out that most of us in the audience are from the south too. “We should have just had the show in my flat,” he says. But he’s soon joking about the stereotypical fancy-pants types who go skiing.

Southerners or not, Law’s show is highly audience-oriented. His competition for Best Audience Member brings out the biggest laughers in the crowd, and he regularly breaks off to comment on the giggles of certain members. He asks us if we enjoy lying and for our opinions on chocolate bars, turning our replies into quick-witted cleverly structured puns, as if by magic, he already knew our answers.

Pure, all-round comedy genius like this deserves a bigger crowd and stage, and maybe entrance music that works.

Leicester Comedy Festival review: The Same Faces – Different Voices at Upstairs at The Western


Review by Olivia Maclaughlin

No strangers to Leicester Comedy Festival, the improv group The Same Faces have been twice nominated in the festival’s annual awards.

It was experimental night not only for the group but for the audience too. Or one of them, at least. Having never been to an improv show before, I must admit I was dubious at best, and trudged, gin in hand, up the stairs to the only pub theatre in Leicester, not knowing what to expect.

A loud, lively Tom Young jumped from behind a curtain and commanded the room from his first word. He proved to be a standout of the evening, not only as our compere but also a performer, later in the show.

Making their debut was the new Harold improv group, and it showed that this was their first performance in this particular format.

Unsure to begin with, the group looked visibly nervous at the front of a small but enthusiastic crowd.

They say one of the joys of improv is not knowing what could happen, but at times this felt messy, with some skits running too long and being pulled in the middle. But let’s not be too harsh: they’re finding their feet.

Next up were the Slackers, who converted me from an improv refusenik to someone who was genuinely laughing at the jokes, even if some references were a tad too old for me.

In a mix of casual, situational comedy and political commentary, the Slackers found an even keel which never sounded like preaching.

And after hearing the phrase ‘Satan’s testicles’ I’ll never look at another tomato the same way again.

Leicester Comedy Festival review: Shappi Khorsandi at Just the Tonic at Hansom Hall

By Emily Barker

Shappi Khorsandi

Within the opening few minutes of her Leicester show, Shappi Khorsandi was picking on people who clearly have never got the memo about sitting in the first few rows at a comedy gig.

First up were a group of four friends, then a 21-year-old girl, to whom Khorsandi was soon referring to herself as Auntie Shappi.

But the 42-year-old turns the fire on herself too, with a flurry of self-deprecating jokes about her age, before going on to take the mick out of her immigrant status.

Khorsandi really gives off cool mum-vibes, talking very highly of her poet father who is often made a part of the show, and her two young children and their struggles with daily life.

But if she talks about her family, it’s certainly not a family show. Jokes are spun from her terrible dating experiences, from STIs and from flashers, but Shappi delivers each segment perfectly and clearly enjoys telling her own sketches as she cracks a giggle along with the audience.

Khorsandi describes one of her flashing experiences as being like Donkey Kong, and it’s safe to say that I’ll never be playing Mario the same way ever again.

Shappi’s 2017 stint on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here is also mined for material, bringing a slight political edge to the show when she tells us about her time in the jungle with Stanley Johnson, complete with an impression.

Despite her struggles in the camp, Shappi manages to find a positive in every situation, explaining how she felt that she’d won for being voted out first, which meant she actually got to spend more time with her family and essentially got a free holiday from ITV.

The show, which got even better from the second half, finished with huge applause from the audience, even though some of them served as the brunt of her jokes; especially the 21-year-old who was given a lesson in the meaning of a 1980s strippergram by Auntie Shappi.

If you get a chance to see Shappi do her stuff, grab it. Highly recommended.