Last night was freezing. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it was any colder than it has been on previous November nights. I’m just saying it was cold, ‘proper’ cold and all I wanted to do was head home, get under a blanket and drink warm cups of whatever was lying around in the cupboards. However, for the good of my Year of Comedy I forged selflessly on and moaned my way over to Leicester Square for some giggles at Macmillan’s Laugh till it hurts fundraising night. I booked it a while ago so to be honest beyond Adam Buxton, I really couldn’t remember who was on the bill.
Leicester Square Theatre was the venue and when we arrived just before 7pm there was a queue already forming (of course there was, this is Britain after all and queuing is an essential part of a good night out). With the boyfriend telling me he was so cold that bits were starting to drop off (despite wearing what is essentially a 32 tog sleeping bag for a jacket) we headed off for a coffee before returning just before 7.30pm and grabbing our seats. I also had to re-assure the boyfriend that we were discreetly tucked away near the back row as he now has a (somewhat justified) fear of being anywhere near the front of a comedy gig thus being plucked for comedy fodder.
Compering and warming up the crowd nicely was Alistair Barrie, who was able to highlight the fundraising point of the night whilst joking about the dreaded C word. First on stage was Adam Buxton (if you grew up in the 90’s think The Adam and Joe show). With trusty macbook by his side he kicked things off with some banter and hilarious clips (trust me when I say that watching a grown man test the slip-osity of a pub toilet floor is priceless and the boyfriend nearly choked on his beer).
Canadian comedian Mae Martin was a gem. From her opening Justin Bieber gag, she was relaxed and immensely likeable. Her mum sounds like a comedy goldmine and let’s face it, it’s nice to know that the anxieties of others also stem from their parents. (I figure it's just inevitable).
Kevin Day felt lower key than the rest of the acts, noting that the promotional material stated ‘not seen much on the circuit these days’. His calmer style worked and kept the laughs flowing.
Jeff Innocent was the biggest surprise of the night. As he strolled out on stage you could sense a nervous anticipation creep over the audience. Here was an ageing, bald London geezer that looked up for a fight. As he swaggered, he smiled, giving us a second before crushing the stereotypes we were quickly forming. Quick, hilarious and straight talking Jeff settled in swiftly and had everyone in fits as he talked about racism, porn and his 11 year old son. He could easily have stormed an hour set and given the applause he got when he went off stage I reckon he’s gathered a few more fans.
Aussie Felicity Ward was the second woman on the bill, an explosive whirlwind of a comedienne, unmistakably Australian and a lady brave enough to end her routine with a chicken clucking version of Dolly Parton’s Nine to Five.
Rounding off the evening was Craggy island favourite Ardal O’Hanlon, who (let's be honest) we all think is exactly like Father Dougal. Naturally, some of the looks are there (they couldn’t not be – it is the guy's face after all) but Ardal is adept at spinning stories and taking you with him on a hilarious journey spinning towards a punchline. Charming and funny in equal measure and I always find a little bit of classic Catholic guilt is welcome in any comedy routine.
With my feet firmly warmed, my ribs duly tickled and a warm fuzzy feeling of having supported Macmillan, I headed home, witnessed a bus fight and went to sleep.
Laugh till it hurts - www.theaidfundraiser.co.uk
Leicester Square Theatre - What's on
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Support Macmillan - www.macmillan.org.uk