War on Want Comedy Gig, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
Monday 04 April 2011
Comic Relief may be over, but the relationship between charity and comedy continues apace. In the last two weeks there have been three major charity galas, including this event that celebrated 60 years of the movement founded by humanitarian Victor Gollancz.
War on Want's director, John Hilary, took the wise decision to get the context of his charity's cause established before the cheesy-but-chucklesome Charlie Baker took the reigns. Baker started the crowd-warming process with a nod to his most famous doppelgänger: "I'm waiting for Jack Black to die!"
Imran Yusuf, an Edinburgh Comedy Awards newcomer nominee, also started his set with references to his (more slender) frame, but quickly got down to the business of playing with race, revealing his descent from Konkani Muslims and having a right old knees-up toying with the Cockney connotation.
Dan Antopolski proved a stealthy hit. Though seemingly determined to fumble his way through, he scored with gags including his take on the 2 for 1 signs outside supermarkets: "Tension in the musketeers?!" The equally droll, and even more dry Simon Evans was in ever-reliable form, casting aspersions on fatherhood with lines such as: "I love my son to bits, he's like a dog to me."
A seemingly out-of-practice Omid Djalili, meanwhile, recalled Yusuf's play with the elasticity of race, but his set seemed tired and was peppered with corny gags. For example, on Libya, he enquired: "How can you enforce a no-fly zone in such a hot country?"
Sketch troupe Idiots of Ants closed the first half with admirable aplomb while Stewart Lee opened the second half with typical gravitas. Clearly a crowd favourite, Lee provocatively played with the idea of the "gentleman terrorism" of the IRA compared to Al-Qaeda's more inconsiderate approach: "It doesn't take a minute to phone someone up."
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