This week has seen two outings to the Greenwich Comedy Festival, first to see Rob Newman at the Greenwich Theatre on the Tuesday, then to see a collaboration of comedians on the Wednesday, headlined by Russell Howard, at ‘the Grounds’…a tent in the middle of the Royal Naval College grounds. Well, I say a tent…it was the kind of marquee you would expect for a wedding (but with 1,200 people crammed into it), not the most sensible set up for a comedy gig and I’m glad I was sat close to the front as I can’t imagine you had a very good view from the back near the bottle only bar.
Rob Newman is a huge hero of mine. Not only is he incredibly funny, not only does he always manage to teach me a little bit of something, but he actually practices what he preaches (as far as I can tell anyway, he might have a jumbo jet on standby somewhere that I don’t know about, but somehow I doubt it). This week’s show seems to have been Rob’s first gig for quite a while, following filming commitments, novel writing and some medical issues, and it therefore didn’t entirely suprise me that there was quite a lot of old material in the set, but having never seen him perform it live before, it was still great to revisit it. The new poem/ballad of the pub quiz star was also fantastic, although not necessarily hillarious, if that makes sense. Rob went through his material on peak oil, and it’s effects on energy use and so on, and so it was a particularly beautiful moment when after the set the theatre manager jumped on stage to warn us all to be careful on the way out, as there had been a powercut downstairs. Rob immediately lept back on to the stage with a cry of “I told you!!” which was a great way to end the evening.
Wednesday’s line up included Lucy Porter, Phil Kay (again) and Russell Howard. Lucy Porter is great, because she comes across as nice and sweet, but then she will say something a bit cutting, or sinister, and it seems more funny because of the juxtaposition. Phil Kay was IMHO better than at the Chapel the other day, I think he responded to the crowd better this time (although he was also possibly reigned in slightly by the sight of an eleven year old in the crowd (who takes a child that young to a comedy gig? Really!)). He particularly like stealing someone’s picnic hamper and finding new rhymes for wicker (only in Greenwich).
Russell Howard is the big name though, because he’s on the television. I had seen him live about a year or two ago, and think he has improved a lot since then, with more confidence in his material and his delivery. But oh my god, can that boy sweat. It was dripping off him, his t-shirt was plastered to his skin. Someone give him a drink, because he certainly deserves it.