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Live Comedy - Just for Laughs - Britcom - 2013

Just for Laughs - Britcom - 2013
Just For Laughs Comedy Festival L Astral, 305 Ste-Catherine West, 2013-07-24, 19:00

Britcom has been a hit and miss event over the years at Just For Laughs. This year is a hit year in no uncertain terms. There is not a weak moment in the whole show from start to finish The worst thing anyone could say is that perhaps one performer was not as funny as another or that an accent was difficult to understand.

One curiosity about the show was the host, American Rich Hall. Hall is a veteran comedian with an amazing ability to riff with the audience even when faced with difficult subjects. Upon opening he asked a father and son where Mom was and received the reply: dead. It is a testament to Hall’s skill that he managed, in a split second, to get laughs out of something which could have been a show stopper very early. Another audience member was a responsive as a brick when Hall was trying to riff with him but Hall still managed to weave the lack of response into laughs.

The strength of the MC  is frequently a good indication of the show to follow. First up on the schedule was one of the two strongest performances of the night the soft spoken and relentlessly funny Joe Lycett . Lycett was a good choice for the opening act. Sharp, insightful, unafraid of the audience and even taking on a tough Scot named Margaret who brought her own material to the show. Lycett’s set was the perfect setup to the first half of the show.

Next up was the comic with the curious hair style Chris Ramsay who was energetic and funny. We learned that the people from the area of Newcastle from which he hails called Sand Shields are called Sand Dancers; Really quite a pretty name. Ramsay is a blue collar comic with strong bits and well worth seeing.

Following Ramsay was Andrew Lawrence who was probably the most difficult to understand comic of the night. It took a good twenty seconds or so to get used to his voice which was very quiet with an accent thicker than most on the night. Lawrence’s style of comedy is dark and observational. He works smart and quick expecting the audience to be equally quick of wit and intelligence. While not quite as strong as Lycett he was the perfect round out to the first half of the night.

There was another act after Andrew Lawrence in the first half but they fall into a different category from stand-up: musical comedy. The Midnight Beast are three young musicians who are skilled lyricists and surprisingly good dancers. The songs they performed Lez Be Friends with the refrain “she must be a lesbian” was hilarious and had dance moves which could compete with any boy band in history. Their second song of the set entitled  Medium Pimpin is a superb send up of rap songs in general and the pimpin type song in particular. While not to everyone’s taste the set was strong.

After a brief intermission Rich Hall came back and warmed up the audience very briefly before introducing the veteran comedian and Rubik’s cube expert Adam Bloom  a manic, head bobbing and self described geek Blooms segues from one seemingly unrelated topic to another with skill and finesse. Like most of the comedians in this show Bloom was more of a headliner than part of an ensemble act but unlike the others his style did not quite lend itself to the short time provided in the set. Bloom would definitely be a better ticket as a solo show than as part of a group show.

Jack Skellington meets Alice Cooper was the description which leapt to mind  when the dapper Eric Lampaert took the stage. Clever, observational, self deprecating Lampaert barely gives the audience time to recover from one punch line before hitting them again. If the show had consisted of only Lycett and Lampaert it would have been a success it would have been enough to more than cover the cost of the ticket but there was more to come.

The final act of the night was comic legend Eddie Izzard There is simply no way to describe the stream of consciousness that is Izzard’s style. Starting with religion and taking wild flight across topics from spoons, human sacrifice, transvestism with a mercurial delivery and entrancing stage presence. Izzard was the perfect finish to a night of excellent stand-up and musical comedy. All in all this year’s edition of Britcom was a winner.

Denis Bernicky

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