From existing only in the comedy wilderness and filed under 'novelty song', musical comedy has now been welcomed back into the fold thanks primarily to Messers Bailey and Minchin making it cool again (for the first time?)
In honour of this fact, Ed Chappel has set up the Musical Comedy Awards to celebrate the best newcomers, and he hosted the Grand Final which took place at the New Players Theatre in Charing Cross on Friday. The finalists had been through a fair few rounds (a nice way of saying I'm not quite sure how many...) and earned the right to perform alongside the current crop of tiptop musical comics including the wonderful Ginger and Black, uber-cool Pippa Evans as scuzzy US country singer Loretta Maine and one of my faves, Mr Tom Basden.
The standard was pretty high and, it has to be said, pretty even. Rob Carter kicked things off, just him and his guitar and, it would appear, a deep love of Flight of the Conchords (not a bad thing). Genuinely odd stuff - a song about getting bullied turns into one about a boy with a face that looks very much like a pizza... both funny haha and funny peculiar.
Next up were Amateur Transplants who are NHS workers with a sideline in doing parodies of existing songs. Not all hit the mark, but their last song - a satirical look at tube strikes using The Jam's Going Underground - is a winner; in fact I remember the YouTube clip doing the rounds at uni, showing it has legs. Positive sign.
Horse and Louis came next, and performed as an inappropriate duo teaching kids about the dangers of drugs through song (well-worn territory, but really well performed), as well as themselves. Their gigglesome take on automated phone systems went down particularly well, and they bagged themselves second place.
York Uni alumnus Jay Foreman was the penultimate performer and his ditties covering Stealing Food and finding An Imperfect Girl seemed to be the first of the night to really win over the neutrals - I wasn't quite that, being a fellow York...ian, but he certainly made me laugh the most, and he's a genuinely great musician. Mr Foreman was placed an honourable (but too low, judges!) third.
Last up, and the eventual winners, were Abandoman - a three-man Irish improvised hip-hop troupe Abandoman. Of course. It has to be said that what they do - and lead rapper Rob Broderick in particular - is frankly astonishing. He uses snippets of information from two members of the audience, and from that improvises a whole slo-jam around it, incorporating the most RIDICULOUSLY brilliant rhymes along the way. The guy is clearly super-talented. The question, to play Devil's Advocate, is whether this is actually musical comedy or one hell of a party piece... either way, they slayed the crowd.