If last night’s 5 Star Comedy Preview is anything to go by, this year’s festival is set to be a corker. Nine of the international acts of the festival were out in full force to do what they do best in front of an appreciative crowd at Sky City Theatre.
The show re-introduced some familiar faces from last year, including the evening’s host the ever-affable, boy-next-door-charming Stuart Goldsmith whose easy banter throughout the night kept the show buoyant and lively. He was followed by Chris Martin (no, not that one), a firm favourite from last year, and it was not hard to see why as he won the crowd over with his boyish persona and belly-laugh-inducing wit – definitely a favourite for me
Displaying a completely different style was John Gordillo whose more relaxed, narrative and lyrical humour will appeal to those who appreciate a good story. Another superb story-teller (and wearer of leopard-print boots which he somehow pulled off), Carl Donnelly, weaves his hilarious yarns so expertly that you really feel like you’re living it. He had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand within minutes. Lewisham local Sara Pascoe added her relatable and fresh style to the evening with some excellent tales about growing up and living in the rough streets of London.
The energetic display put on by Tim FitzHigham mixed physical action with some really quite intriguing facts about antiquated British methods of entertainment – this quirky chap’s show is sure to be a winner with those who enjoy laughing at the absurdness of the everyday. In contrast, Northern Irish comedian Michael Legge is the stereotypical surly man. He’s angry at things and not afraid to show it, though he took some warming to, there were definitely some laugh out loud moments to enjoy. Bawdy and shameless, Markus Birdman certainly pulled the laughs, though some of the material may have been familiar to those who saw him last year. The standout of the second half was John Robins who had the audience rolling with his recounting of his medical misfortunes and his musings on turning 30. His fresh take on these and other topics was delightful, especially to a younger audience, and he’ll be one to watch during the festival, no doubt.
For those who missed the preview, fear not! Check out The Big Show On The Shore at the Bruce Mason Theatre, or The Big Show 2014 at the Comedy Chamber. With this talented bunch strutting their stuff, you’re in for a treat.
Reviewed by Steph Bean