Stand Up and Rock, Hammersmith Apollo, London


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The Independent Culture

Comedy and rock n' roll persistently get paired for the comparative superlative “comedy is the new rock n' roll” and tonight they were again bedfellows.

On this occasion the genres vied for the attention of the audience at Stand Up and Rock, a fundraiser for the homeless charity Crisis.

Ross Noble was charged with hosting duties at this standing gig and was told to keep up a pacy rhythm. “They asked me 'Can you do a tight 10 mins?' 'You've not seen me before have you? I said.”  Noble later suggested that headliner Paul Weller “would be lucky to get on before Christmas.”

However, Noble proved that he had more self-discipline than he gave himself credit for. The buoyant Geordie saved up enough time to goof around with a member of the first act, The Choir With No Name, who he encouraged to crowdsurf after his performance.

The choir arguably the most successful out-and-out musical outfit tonight. Of course the adage “just play the hits” (their covers included 'Fairytale of New York') was always going to be most relevant to them, but both Graham Coxon and Paul Weller could have prospered from this advice too.

Comedy provided the highlights tonight. Veteran comedian Jo Brand succeeded because she has a tight twenty-five minute set that stands up to repetition. “My husband never learned to my opinion.” is one of many pithy pops she takes at her other half in it, and, while she's not short of self-deprecating gags either, her version of married life is a rich seam: “We argue about which side of the bed we want. He doesn't like it underneath.”

Tim Minchin may initially make more grandiose and politically correct statements about the battle of the sexes in his song 'Confessions' but he then deliciously undercuts them with the chorus about loving boobs: “They're just so jooby/they make me feel groovy/I would rather watch boobs than a movie.”

Fast becoming ubiquitous, the Australian musical comedian was received as if he was the headliner and indeed he represents an obvious mid-point in the comedy and rock equation. The semi-autobiographical song 'Rock n' Roll Nerd' almost implies a value judgement on the status of a rock god to a comedian, a inequity not borne out by tonight. Furthermore the lyric “He keeps writing songs the world will never hear” is a demon surely banished by the runaway success of his score for the hit musical, Matilda.