Another super-quick comedy catch up so that I can remember what I’ve been up to and remind myself how bloody lucky I am – these gigs are not only top class, but at most around a third of the price of what you’d pay for bands or musicians of a similar calibre. Comedy really is the value-for-money night out.
On my birthday (the 17th, when I also splashed out on those Hamlet tickets) I went to the Falling Down With Laughter night which is very well established but which I’ve never ventured to before – and it ended up being one of the best mixed bills I’ve ever been to. Headlined by Mr Key, the night is MC’d by Alexis Dubus’ French character Marcel Lucont – and it really shouldn’t work. Comperes are normally big and over the top to get the audience going, but Marcel is typically Gallic; laid-back, softly spoken and forever with a glass of red in his hand. And yet, he’s somehow perfect, and he introduced a pretty stellar evening which included several sketch groups, the character comedian Pippa Evans, ivory-tinkler extraordinaire James Sherwood as well as Tim. Nice going.
Since then I’ve seen Mark Watson continue to hone his great new material for a mammoth tour next autumn, Ben Miller and Alexander Armstrong try out sketches for their third series (going to be a good’un), Key launch his book, and David O’Doherty. Twice... oh but he’s just so damn good. He does a song about the fact that ‘everything’s not shit’. It’s beautiful.
And then there was Christmas Karaoke Circus on Thursday; just as wonderful and life-affirming as ever, but with added festival magic in the rather brilliant Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. Moving back to a larger venue meant that the brave performers were once again backed by the Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra as in the 100 Club, allowing for full-on renditions of Mr Blue Sky (heaven!), Blur’s The Universal and Bohemian Rhapsody, as well as plenty of Christmas classics, of course. All the regulars were there: Pappy’s (they’ve dropped the Fun Club) did Slade; the Penny Dreadfuls channelled the Boss, and dream team Chris Addison and Jess Hynes became Shane and Kirsty for Fairytale of New York. The highlight though, came from Ben Miller and Tony Gardner (he of Lead Balloon and My Parents Are Aliens, AKA one of the best kids’ shows ever). Ben stayed with Bowie, while Tony joined him on stage - avec pipe - to perform Little Drummer Boy. Hilariously, they did the whole spoken bit at the beginning of the video, and points must be given to Tony for not corpsing, which is more than can be said for Ben... all in all, a pretty excellent way to kickstart the countdown to Christmas.