Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Feature Spot brilliance, Gloomy comedy and the magnificent Pajama Men

Well well well, here we are in February and I officially suck at blogging. In my defence, January was probably my busiest month so far work-wise, and was topped off by a rather lovely virus last week that had me laid up in bed in a way I haven't experienced for years and years... Still, I continued to make the most of what London has to offer, of course, and I saw some real stunners.

Early on, as well as seeing James Sherwood, I returned to the legendary 100 Club; this time not for one of those Karaoke Circuses, but for a relatively new club night from Feature Spot which is quickly and rightly getting a reputation for putting together some of the best bills in the capital. This night had Perrier-winning Phil Nichol on MC duties (yes, he did 'Only Gay Eskimo', something I will NEVER complain about, no matter how many times I see it), along with the fabulous character comic Colin Hoult, Rufus Hound trying out some new material and a couple of Penny Dreadfuls being utterly charming as ever. We Are Klang's Greg Davies headlined, and absolutely slayed the room with his sprawling, bizarre and utterly hilarious stories. Brilliant.

The following Monday was apparently the year's gloomiest, and so to raise a bit of cash for Depression Alliance, 'Gloom Aid' was held at the Islington Academy, with Mark Watson at the helm. Now, if I had my way, Watson would MC every single gig ever - quick, clever, self-aware and with the ability to make everyone feel involved and at ease, he's the reason a 24 Hour show is at all possible. It was also great to see Alex Horne (Wordwatcher and We Need Answers host) do stand up for the first time, and it was my first experience of the much-loved musical comedy duo Frisky and Mannish. They are clearly brilliant musically, and Wuthering Heights as sung by Lily Allen is particularly inspired - but I think I need to see a fill show to really fall for them.

Later that week I had booked a single ticket for the Pajama Men at the Soho Theatre on a bit of whim, and I am so glad I did: their show 'Last Stand To Reason' is quite simply one of the best - comedy or theatre - that I have ever seen. It isn't often that a show lives up to such huge hype (it has had almost universal critical adoration) but sometimes things are just as good as everyone says it is. The two men in flannel pyjamas - or pAjamas, they are Yanks after all - act out lots of characters on a train, and they inhabit them all so brilliantly, and so funnily; combining the script and vague storyline with left-field, improvised flights of fancy. Part theatre, part comedy and, with no props other than two chairs, part mime, it's all performed with consumate professionalism without ever feeling forced, and I felt genuinely involved with many of the characters. I'm going again, and I can't wait.


Dean said...

Wow, doing Gay Eskimo as an MC is mean! Unless he did it at the end. Kind of hard to follow!

jamesgfarrell said...

The Pajama Men made me laugh so hard, I no longer have an oesophagus.