Review: Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival Preview Show.
With the 2016 Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival just weeks away, the annual Preview Show is always a good showcase of what’s to come, and this year’s was no exception.
We weren’t sure what to expect from compere Lee Nelson (aka Simon Brodkin), but he did a fantastic job with his cheeky wide boy banter and hilarious exchanges with the youngest and eldest audience member respectively. A cock-up in his duties showed a great side to him, which was a lot more likeable and personable than we’d anticipated. Nelson delivered some killer lines during the proceedings and was a joy throughout. We will definitely be getting tickets for his next live shows which kick off next month.
First up was likeable Geordie Kai Humphreys, who, after a fairly clumsy/lazy opening about being ginger, delivered some good one liners especially about his Omani girlfriend.
Next, Jen Brister did a great stint, connecting perfectly with the audience as she told her tales of being over 35 and recognising how secretly, a good proportion of that demographic in the audience had probably secretly hoped to receive a text at 5pm the same night saying the show was cancelled. Her middle-aged woes around planning a night out “I’m already going out… on March 3rd!” again resonated perfectly, although her observations about being a lesbian mum of twins seemed a little out of sync with the rest of her slot as there wasn't much to laugh about it.
George Rigden was perhaps the weakest comedian on the night. His routine exposed nods to Ricky Gervais (his delivery and body language was, at times, a bit too David Brent) and his musical comedy needs to be stronger and more original if he’s ever going to stand out. He’s quite new to the scene so he can be forgiven, but it only made the next act Nish Kumar look like a seasoned pro.
Kumar’s delivery is slick, confident and sophisticated and we got the feeling he’s a name we’re going to be seeing an awful lot more of in 2016. This was smart, well written observational comedy and he left us wanting more.
The second half began with a poor man’s Tim Vine, in the shape of Darren Walsh. One pun after the next, he did get a laugh but we can’t help but think anyone can string a load of puns together and he needs to sharpen up his set if he is to establish himself as a recognisable act. Much like Kai Humphreys, he was amusing enough but soon forgettable.
Tom Little followed and won a heap of laughs with his style, which, for the first time on the line-up tonight, offered something unique. Little may need to do a little work on the content of his gags (it’s 2016, why are we debating whether jaffa cakes are cakes?) but that said, the quirkiness of his delivery was very funny to watch and he definitely stood out as a future star because of it.
Sophie Hagden was a funny one (sadly not very literally), in the sense that her prolonged story about an awkward sexual encounter with another comedian when she last performed at the Leicester Comedy Festival Preview Show just seemed to awkwardly baffle the audience. The story wasn’t particularly funny or clever and it didn't sit well. Aside from that, she was quite likeable and some of her other jokes were funny, but she should stick to the gags about her body image rather than anecdotes which are short on punchlines.
The show was nicely closed by The Boy With Tape On His Face. Always a joy to watch, he was a great booking and despite several audience members ducking out of the opportunity to participate, he pulled off a hilarious routine which was clever, impressive and a joy to watch.
Overall, this was a great show and we do realise that this is a showcase for new talent and therefore not everyone is going to be polished and accomplished just yet. Indeed, that's the point. The show did what it set out to do, which was to a) give these people a big platform, b) demonstrate the diversity of the festival and c) whet the audience’s appetite for wanting to see more during the actual festival. All of which can be ticked off and we can’t wait to see what else is in store next month.
For the full Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival line-up, visit http://www.comedy-festival.co.uk.