Times+ Comedy Night, Wilton’s Music Hall
Reviewer: Hattie Williams
Four acts, three hours, two bar breaks and one enchantingly old venue: the countdown to comedy night success? The Times+ event was certainly vivacious and various but the spectrum of wit, from the weak to the highly controversial, at times divided the laughs.
Introducing the acts, Jarred Christmas stirred an energetic atmosphere with his light-hearted humour, talking to members of the audience with a playful and unforced manner worthy of a good conversationalist. His quick reactions to the wonderfully unpredictable responses never dwindled too long and it was with confidence that the audience greeted the first act. Though Henry Paker’s pauses and mumblings sometimes fell into hesitancy, his punch-lines were witty for their honesty. There were traces of Michael McIntyre in his ability to revert the awkwardness of everyday life into comedy gold, and though Paker’s sequences lacked continuity, he left the audience laughing before the first interval.
Peep Show star Isy Suitte bounced onto the stage, guitar in hand, and delivered a knockout routine that played (quite literally) to her musical talent. All giggling, no dithering, she wove hilarious hypothetical scenarios into exaggerated but accurate impersonations of Amy Winehouse and Dido that flowed into singsong satires. Her skits of love songs and nursery rhymes were side-achingly funny and finished off an incredibly clever and charming act. More musical flair ensued as the five lads of Late Night Gimp Fight (nominees of the Edinburgh Comedy Newcomer Award) composed a series of highly original and energetic sketches tastefully mocking society and themselves. The group’s intelligence and faultless harmony in both movement and song enthused great roars of laughter that were unmatched for the final comedian of the night.
For a headline act, Brendon Burns disappointed. The laughter shook for its self-consciousness, not for its enthusiasm, as the Aussie delved past controversy into offensively unbalanced jokes regarding his own misgivings concerning women and religion. To his credit there were moments of genius in his digressions on cultural difference, particularly in his quick-witted ridicules of America. His observations of Australian priorities in their approach to world media were well executed, but this energy, at first contagious became tiring to endure in the last and largest time slot.
For their undeniable success, the two central acts of the Times+ Comedy night were like a sweet filling flanked by middling bread. Though the outer acts provoked moments of tension, the buzzing atmosphere won over, and like the best sandwiches, the general effect of all the components was delicious. The aging beauty of Wilton’s Music Hall, Wapping, completed a diversely enjoyable evening and it remains a venue and gig I will always recommend.