Leicester Comedy Festival review: Comedy in the Dark for Kids at the Phoenix

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Review by Olivia Maclaughlin

Parents with pints, children with sweets and fizzy pop and amongst them all, a 21-year-old wondering what the hell she has let herself in for.

I’m here at the Phoenix on my own, for a show in the dark, put on for kids. It isn’t quite my usual Saturday evening, but I will say that I am glad I’m not a middle-aged man, as that would have raised some concerning looks at the very least.

So we file into the cinema – some with sniffly, runny noses, some above the age of 12 – me, in case you hadn’t guessed – wondering what their weekends have come to.

Comedy in the Dark takes an audience, plunges them into gloom – literal, not metaphorical – and makes them listen to comedy rather than watch it. This show, which is part of the UK Kids’ Comedy Festival, was PG friendly.

Laura Davis was first on stage, quickly using her Australian accent to start the laughter off and transitioning into animal facts and fart jokes, a theme of all the comedians.

Samson and Mabel are up next, two siblings who easily earn the most laughter possibly because they were the same age as the audience and knew just the right balance of fart, poo and school jokes would work best. Although young, they’re confident in the delivery and timing of their material.

Olaf Falafel uses fake balloon animals and light-up glasses to guide the audience through the last part of the show. He ends his time with the sound that Chewbacca would make whist having a poo.

Call and response and talking in a comedy show is usually frowned upon yet here it is encouraged and carries from Davis to Falafel. I don’t have children, and I’m not the target audience, but it gets repetitive, and a bit chaotic too: when they’re asked what to do with a cow in their home, everyone wants to be heard at the same time, and the answers are lost in the yells.

Instead, I found laughter in the in-between, and the comments from children that didn’t know any better. These tiny hecklers produce some of the funniest points in the evening. One child shouts “it’s not funny” to a joke that hasn’t landed.

They say children are some of the most honest critics out there. The performers tonight certainly felt that.

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