Leicester Comedy Festival Gala Night
De Montfort Hall Leicester, Fri 12th January 2018
Reviewed by Richard Perry
'a great night out with some top humour'
The Leicester Comedy Festival kicked off its silver jubilee year with a traditionally barnstorming preview show at a packed De Montfort Hall last night.
Some of the country's best up and coming comedians performed their taster sets for this year's fun ably anchored by host Ed Byrne.
Byrne is a singular talent, dashing around the stage with a fine line in tight, manic patter that hits the comedy mark every time. Seeing him at full throttle, unfettered by TV constraints, is a wonderful thing. He's up there with the best so you might have thought that the newbies would struggle to meet a very high bar - well yes and no.
You can't beat years of experience on the circuit but the eight performers featured in the comedy gala gave it a good try. Some of the performances were a little tentative at times; it was the biggest gig some of them had done but you can't knock the enthusiasm.
What tickles the funny bone is an individual thing but the highlight for me was Flo & Joan, a
musical comedy duo with sisters Nicola and Rosie Dempsey, who specialise in surreal
and delightfully absurd songs.
We only got two, including one hellishly complicated folk
parody, but it was enough to convince me they are the heirs to Victoria Wood
but actually funnier. We'll be seeing a lot of them in the future unless TV and radio commissioning editors are really, really stupid.
Alasdair Beckett-King manages to prove you can have long flowing ginger locks and look cool in a jumper; he's also very funny in a whimsically unhinged sort of way. A very relaxed performer who looks like Lemmy from Motorhead and sounds like a droll English Lit teacher.
Bilal Zafar had the difficult job of ending the first half and only seemed to get into his stride, after a long set up, in the last couple of minutes as he related some social media shenanigans he got dragged into. That alone points to really good material during his stint at the festival.
time I saw Sarah Keyworth was at the Newfoundpool Working Men's Club over a
year ago as part of an all women line up.
She was good then and she's even better
now. You wouldn't think that occasionally downbeat personal anecdotes about her
life and sexuality could be stuff of comedy but she's sharp, incisive and quite daft.
I liked Matt Richardson as well who reminded me a little bit of a not safe for work Russell Howard. A piece about dealing with his drunken girlfriend was inspiringly tasteless... Loved it!
The Gala Night also included performances from Chris Norton Walker, Chris Washington and Tom Lucy all of whom will be stretching their comedy muscles during the festival between 7th and 25th February.
Basically a good night out with some top humour easily proving that the Leicester Comedy Festival will be around for another 25 year.
Find out who's on where at this year's Leicester Comedy Festival by picking up one of the thousands of brochures around the city or go to www.comedy-festival.co.uk