Leicester Comedy Festival review: Tom Stade at Just the Tonic at Hansom Hall

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By Aleksandra Brzezicka

Warning: Tom Stade’s show is not for children, the faint-hearted or easily insulted. Stay away for your own safety.

The man enters the room like a washed-up rock ‘n’ roll star would enter the hall of fame. Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Stade. Let’s get on with this already.

Stade starts off with an announcement. He’s 50 this month, so he can finally get a grasp of what it means to be old. Obviously, he chooses the oldest-looking lad in the audience to bond with over the young stuff they can’t do anymore.  Like showing off your penis in a public restroom for a quick mates-involving STD check. Or during kids’ parties. You may even end up making toilet plans for your bum on the road instead of checking out chicks on the way. Highway to hell, indeed.

Well, at least you were brought up tough, not like the spoiled brats of the new generation.  “Violence makes you learn,” says Tom. The teachers didn’t beat the crap out of you so you’re plainly dumb, probably don’t even drive and don’t worry about bills. You’ll just make a joint out of them. Yes, Tom, that’s what we all do.

Despite all the drama and squeezing the f word in every other sentence, Stade’s show was very informative and took us on an exclusive tour to the toilets and a vending machine shopping haul. Women learnt that in the gents you can buy paracetamol, condoms and, for only three pounds, a vibrating cock ring. Then in the women’s you can get paracetamol (for when your gal need to fake a headache), tampons, vibrating bullets and tests to check if your drink has been spiked. For some reason, the last one caused a wave of indecent laughter. Hilarious. Tom Stade, what a lad you are.

He also made a homage, of a kind, to “the greatest paedophile in the world, Michael Jackson.” If you’re forced to do it with your uncle, it’s a crime; if it’s MJ you’d get a career out of it. How perceptive.

Stade walks a thin line of daring dark humour and bad bad taste. That’s the most exciting element to his show. You never know what’s gonna hit you – a penis pun or satire on fake news – or if he’ll just shout at you.

He poses as a comedian who poses as a schmuck to manipulate the masses into laughter, this time at the ornate Hansom Hall – or this “piece of s**t room.” He doesn’t care about opinions, hates people and loves to swear. And that’s his charm.

Leicester Comedy Festival review: Laurel and Hardy Cabaret at the Guildhall

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Review by Sofia Luis-Hobbs

Laurel and Hardy are undoubtedly a classic comedy duo but they’re an acquired taste in this day and age.

And if I didn’t quite acquire it, it certainly wasn’t for want of trying. I grew up watching them on DVD with my dad. It wasn’t my cup of tea but I sat and watched nonetheless, as he was reduced to hysterics beside me.

It’s been years since I’ve seen any of their films, but when the chance presented itself to go and see a cabaret version of their act I couldn’t help but smile at the thought – not necessarily at the show but at the memories it sparked.

The show began with the immortal theme tune, triggering giggles around the room and I knew then that the next 120 minutes would be a trip down memory lane for everyone in there.

Well, pretty much everyone. The cabaret had drawn a mixed crowd to the Great Hall of the Guildhall, including several younger children and a toddler or two who cooed during some inopportune moments – but Tony Carpenter and Philip Hutchinson had it covered. Quick on their feet, they found ways to incorporate these noises off into their performance, particularly whenever Laurel needed a talking to – which, of course, was often.

The duo really are the full package when it comes to impersonating the iconic pair. Not only did they embody the characters perfectly, they bear an uncanny physical resemblance of the original Laurel and Hardy.

Carpenter, who plays Laurel, mimics the famous head wiggle, the outbursts of crying and sheer naivety throughout the performance to a tee. Hutchinson, as Hardy, gets to dominate, which of course brings with it the famous tie grab alongside a flustered laugh and pursed lips.

The cabaret includes an array of the duo’s classic sketches, from their earlier works to their final ones, as well as some sketches that were never released.

Performing famous routines from Swiss Miss, Men O’ War and Sons of the Desert, Carpenter and Hutchinson pull it out of the bag – and no, I’m not talking about the random things Carpenter seems to pull out of his bag to irritate his onstage partner.

Yet they also brought the act up to date, with a song performed to a photo of Susan Boyle. It was unconventional but a stroke of genius, alongside other tricks they had up their sleeves to get younger audiences involved.

Fun-filled and family friendly, the cabaret is a true homage to the duo, which Laurel and Hardy fans will be sure to adore.

Leicester Comedy Festival review: Silver Stand Up Final with Mrs Barbara Nice at Peter Pizzeria

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Review by Ella Lloyd

This show was pigging brilliant, as Barbara Nice would say.

Nice was the perfect host for the Leicester Comedy Festival’s, Silver Stand Up final – bubbly, flamboyant and crazy.

Watching her bust some dance moves to 60s throwback music, was like watching your gran at a party after one too many Pear Drops.

She was unpredictable like the change of wind. Where would she end up next?

Climbing on top of the chairs, that’s where. Nice made sure that everybody in the audience got involved with her cheesy sing-along.

Read more: See our Leicester Comedy Festival reviews here.

The 90-minute show was a nonstop whirlwind as the eight acts competed against one another in five-minute slots.

First up was Glen Stone. He played with the typical ‘let me read your mind’ theme. Guaranteed to make you crease, even when you already know that he has absolutely no clue what card ‘Judy in the audience’ is thinking of.

Next, Jenny Bolt, who spoke candidly of her overgrown private parts. Savage – and the easily embarrassed in the crowd must have been sinking low into their chairs.

Showcasing his slow, serious and stern style, Robin Banks joked about the silver linings in each and every situation. Good or bad there was always a cracking pun involved.

Pleasing the room with her original themes, Karen Blott caught the crowd’s attention with her dry sense of humour. Her accent came across as upper-class, but her content was common as muck.

Wearing his red, sparkly shirt, Jimbo entered the stage looking like he was about to perform on Dancing On Ice. It was definitely eye-catching. He joked about the consequences of taking drugs as part of his act. Judging by his performance, it’s not entirely clear whether it was just a joke.

Margaret Pinder focused on politics. Of course, there is always one. Four-time Silver Stand Up finalist, Kevin Hudson was fantastic. The audience were very appreciative of his old-school jokes.

The show ended on an absolute belter. Daniel Rubinstein pulled it out the bag with his musical routine. He completely nailed Britney Spears’ backing track and his impersonation of Jimmy Hendrix – kneeling on the floor, making wailing guitar sounds – was immense, and the highlight of the whole show. Although, the judges didn’t seem to think so, as they crowned Jenny Bolt as the competition’s 2020 winner.

Leicester Comedy Festival review: Jo Enright – Erdington Girl at Holy Trinity Church

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Review by Kyran Kennedy

In another top-drawer performance, Jo Enright gave one of the most entertaining church sermons the Leicester public will have seen in years.

The Birmingham-born stand-up was back in Leicester almost 25 years after winning the Mercury Comedian of the Year award at the 1996 festival.

You might consider it an odd choice of venue for a comedy show, but it was the perfect choice of venue for Jo’s humour.

Her witty lines and tales about the people she grew up around and the odd sights she’s seen were all too relatable for the audience. She also had no qualms about poking fun at herself to earn a good laugh.

Turning a pun in to a story worth sharing is something that Jo exceeds at. She’s been to plenty of cities and towns across the UK and seems like she has a story for each of them, but if not she can always rely on her birthplace to provide an often outrageous story – though some of her jokes may put people off visiting places in Birmingham.

Read more: See our Leicester Comedy Festival reviews here.

People from all walks of life could certainly find fun in an act like this, but at another venue the material could easily suit a late-night audience with more adult tones included.

Also, it was a great solo show. Covering well over an hour and keeping the audience entertained can be tough, even for a group of comedians all performing on the same show.

But to keep the interest high until the end is something that Jo can be proud of and undoubtedly shows her range.

This act showed why Jo has been on the comedy circuit for more than two decades and can likely continue to get laughs up and down the country for years to come.

The former ‘The Job Lot’ star could certainly earn herself a few more TV roles if her performances match up to this week in week out.

Leicester Comedy Festival review: Chris Betts at Manhattan 34

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