When it comes to laughs, honesty can be the best policy

 

For stand-ups appearing at It Might Get Ugly, London’s darkest new comedy night, there is just one rule: they must be honest “to the point of regret.” No whimsy, no cosy old anecdotes. Comedians must expose themselves mercilessly – even more so than usual.

That explains why Harry Hill, headlining the night at London’s Pleasance this week, chose to take to the stage in a blue all-in-one decorated with the logo of his recently defunct West End show I Can’t Sing. His opening line? “I co-wrote a musical about The X Factor and all I got was this lousy onesie.”

For the next half hour, Hill performed a rare, hilarious and jaw-dropping monologue about the blockbuster musical, which lasted just six weeks in the West End despite the backing of Simon Cowell. “I’ve yet to meet anyone who bought a ticket”, he admitted revealing that he learned the bad news when a joke on the phone backfired. “I had a missed call from the producer so I called her back and said, ‘I thought we’d get longer than a month!’. She said, ‘How did you know?’”

The laughs came from gossipy titbits – about Cowell’s veto over who played him (“It had to be someone younger and better-looking than him…”), the disaster-prone set and the glitzy opening night party, at which the cast were excluded from the VIP area. The interest came from seeing Hill, stripped-back and self-lacerating: no big silly collar, no platform shoes and no bursting into song – unless you count the desperate rendition of the musical’s title track with which he finished his set.

It Might Get Ugly was founded by Karl Schulz, 27, in December last year. As MC, he sets the bleak, anything-goes tone - his opening routine on Monday was about a teenage suicide attempt. “When it started it was about people subverting their usual posture. It has taken away every ounce of arrogance I ever had as a comedian”, he says. “I often get a call on the day from acts saying, ‘What am I going to do?’”

Terrifying it may be, but Schulz has stand-ups like Bridget Christie, Joe Lycett and Brett Goldstein queuing up to take part. Hill has appeared twice, calling it “the most uncomfortable and hilarious time I’ve spent in a comedy club.” On Monday Trevor Lock revealed his existential angst while Sara Pascoe talked candidly about the jealousy that plagues her relationships. The next show, on Tuesday [1 July], will feature John Kearns, Phil Nichol and Liam Williams. In August, it will take up a late-night residency at the Edinburgh Fringe for the month.

Risk aside, the cathartic appeal for comedians is clear – a chance to confess or vent on a topic that might not fit their usual set or fanbase. As for the audience, it’s a chance to see a stand-up’s vulnerable side. “What’s more edifying than someone opening up to you?” ask Schulz. Laughing while they do it, of course.

1 July, The Harrison Bar, London WC1; 30 July – 24 August, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh (www.twitter.com/itmightgetugly)

After Hours

Discovering diamonds in the rough is the great joy of the Edinburgh Fringe. Four years ago I was one of 10 in a room watching a young woman in a check shirt talking – with fierce, funny, poetic grace – about surviving the London bombings. A year later, I came across John Peel’s Shed, a charming, offbeat one-man show about winning a box of the late DJ’s records on a radio phone-in.

The two performers in question were Molly Naylor and John Osborne. This week filming began on a new six-part sitcom they have written together for Sky 1, starring Ardal O’Hanlon and Jaime Winstone. After Hours will be directed by Craig Cash and is set on a barge that doubles as internet radio station. If it’s anything like their early Fringe work, I’ll be watching.

Ones to Watch

Dawn French

The comedian’s surprisingly revealing stand-up tour continues.

Brighton tonight, Plymouth tomorrow.

Daniel Rigby

The Bafta-winning star of Eric and Ernie performs an hour of wonderfully barmy sketches “Berk in Progress”.

Monday 30 June, 9.30pm, The Invisible Dot, London N1

Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
News
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
people
News
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Oscars
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
music
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
film
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
architecture
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower