Burns Night Comedy Gala, Leicester Square Theatre, London
Friday 28 January 2011
The London launch for the Magners Glasgow International Comedy Festival offered stars past and present, reflecting a programme that will run from veterans such as Frank Carson to bright young thing Russell Kane.
Not even Arthur Smith can match Carson's showbiz tenure but his advancing years were at the heart of some of his material tonight. "To those of you who say you don't like Radio 4, in the end you will," he told the young audience.
Smith's warm start came after Glasgow girl Susan Calman had already heated the room with some self-deprecating wit. She proudly told us that her 4'11" "Janette Krankie" frame allowed her to stand up in the back of a cab without crouching.
The UK-based Canadian Tony Law's slot had one successful joke that consisted of him repeating the name of presenter Gok Wan ad nauseam until a neat, silly twist at the end.
Kevin Eldon failed to give a taste of the success of his recent Edinburgh show with a rushed outing for his "Northern man" character Stanley Jewthorpe while Josie Long was amiable enough with material that included the best message to leave in condensation on a hotel mirror: "I will kill again."
While Craig Hill closed the first half with a sassy salaciousness, Miles Jupp opened the second with a classy excerpt from his show about cricket.
Robin Ince also sparkled for his five minutes. The endearing curmudgeon echoed Smith's shtick with the observation: "Being young is rubbish. You are full of hope and expectations. It's a relief to have that removed."
John Maloney followed with a crowd-pleasing run of downbeat stories, while Richard Herring, charmed to a point, though this short excerpt from his full-length show relied more on his powers of memory than his gift for punchlines.
The Glasgow International Comedy Festival runs from 17 March to 10 April (www.glasgowcomedyfestival.com)
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