Sunday, March 22, 2009

Comedy in an office, a church, and other similarly unusual venues

Last year I went to the Union Chapel in Islington (a working chapel, and a rather lovely one at that) to see an impressive line-up of comedy - you might remember, there was the sublime Tony Law and I met Tim Minchin and the like. Anyway, that night, 'Live At The Chapel', was promoted by Zoo Logic, and that company has since morphed in ways I don't really understand into 'The Invisible Dot'.

As I can gather, this comprises one enthusiastic and ridiculously well-connected man, Simon Pearce, who is now promoting fascinating, often site-specific comedy nights in the capital - and his gigs would be becoming quite a drain on my resources were they not such great value for money. Take the first Invisible Dot night, held at Proud in Camden last month. The bill included Minchin, Arthur Smith, Daniel Kitson, Pippa Evans and Kevin Eldon which when added to MC Simon Munnery is a pretty heavyweight bill to say the least. That was a tenner.

Then there was this week's gig from Freeze! AKA half of the sketch group Cowards AKA Tim Key and Tom Basden, held in the Invisible Dot office. It's quite a nice office, to be fair, in Camden Stables Market, but an office nonetheless. They did an hour of material - "some new, and some tired" as Key put it, and then showed their Bafta-nominated short film. That was £6.

And it was a great gig - they have a classic odd couple chemistry, with Tim Key playing the suited, self-important, poet and Basden as his down-trodden, nervous (and as a result, utterly heroic) partner. The 'Smoke Me A Kipper I'll Be Back For Breakfast' t-shirt was a particularly nice touch I thought. Their comedy is 90% delivery, and if you're not charmed by them then it might be not be for you but somehow Key especially always manages to pluck the most brilliant turn of phrase out the air to make me laugh a little too much. And their film, The One And Only Herb McGwyer Plays Wallis Island, really is something quite special - sweet, funny and a big-hearted celebration of fandom.

The office was the perfect venue, in fact, for the latest Invisible Dot venture, a play-come-sketch called The Meeting. Written by and starring Simon Bird, Johnny Sweet and Joe Thomas under the collective name The House Of Windsor, it starts as a wonderfully astute take on the minutiae of company meetings, from rampant passive aggression to naughty notes being passed around the staff/audience -but becomes increasingly surreal as time goes on. It wasn't wall-to-wall laughs, but wins points for inventiveness and three hugely talented performers.

So there we have it, a short biography of the Invisible Dot to date. Now I'm looking forward to the next Live At The Chapel with Phil Nichol, We Are Klang (whom I'm yet to form any real opinion on), Key, Basden, Hans Teeuwen and an as yet unannounced MC. With comics now thinking ahead to Edinburgh, I think there may be a fair few exciting work-in-progress gigs to attend over the next few months... yay!


Dean said...

Klang are awesome live, I remember being utterly blown away when they gigged for me a few years ago.

Phil Nichol's a favourite of mine too.

All that stuff sounds a bit like Laughter in Odd Places:

Kev said...

I missed this one too.... but will fire up the iPlayer tonight and give it a whirl.