Brixton: laughter capital of Europe

COMEDY

IF Britain is ever truly to take its rightful place at the heart of Europe, we're going to need a lot more entertainment options that begin after 11 o'clock. Brixton's Late Lock-In is a bold step in the right direction. This appetising smorgasbord of after-hours character comedy is newly established on the fifth floor of The Brix - a derelict church converted into a thriving fun palace - with the bump and thump from the nightclub across the corridor offering a piquant reminder to comedy followers of how more successful people spend their Friday nights.

Genial landlord Al Murray is the perfect host. A familiar figure to all those lucky enough to have experienced Harry Hill's 1994 Pub Internationale show, Murray is the proud possessor of a catch phrase - "I'm not saying it's right, I'm not saying it's wrong, it's just the way things are" - worthy of Judas Iscariot. The warmth of his welcome is genuine, and the sensitivity with which he handles the potentially troublesome Gayle Tuesday, Page 3 Stunna, is much to be commended.

The Late Lock-In's great innovation is its potential for spontaneous interaction between well-established comic characters: cf. when Murray's courtly pub-speak collides with the impassioned street rhetoric of Alan Parker, Urban Warrior: "Don't call me squire - I'm an ordinary decent mem- ber of the urban proletariat." Parker's alter ego, Simon Munnery, is revered by other comics as a rare and genuinely dangerous talent, so in some ways it is odd that he has persisted for so long with such a non-toxic character; but a TV pilot beckons at last, and lines such as "The Birmingham Six are free - when will the rest of Birmingham be free?" are probably their own reward.

The sinister innuendoes of Matt Lucas's Sir Bernard Chumley just get better with age. You'd think the one about entering the Young Musician of the Year would start to pall on fourth or fifth hearing, but it doesn't. And some of his running gags - "Shabba Ranks ... funny he never married" - are starting to take on a life of their own. It would be a shame, though, if Lucas, who's still only just the wrong side of 20, got trapped in the guise of the Touretting thespian, so his new character - a cockney in mortal anguish - is a very welcome sight.

Australia's Umbilical Brothers - currently at the Arts Theatre in a delayed but highly polished transfer from last year's Edinburgh Festival - live at the opposite end of Comedy Avenue to the Late Lock-In posse. As innocents abroad in a world of high-octane slapstick, David Collins and Shane Dundas inhabit the same basic territory (Harold Lloyd with added sound effects) as fellow Antipodeans and 1994 Perrier Award-winners Lano & Woodley, but to considerably less irritating effect. As the collected speeches of Sebastian Coe so poignantly testify, physical and mental agility are often reluctant bedfellows, but in this case brain and brawn prove pleasingly compatible.

A step on the stage becomes a perilous high-rise window ledge, a plastic dinosaur pursues an astronaut, and hands multiply like fruit-flies. In fact there are almost enough visual coups in the act to enable the audience to forgive the Brothers for wearing braces over red T-shirts. The false beginning, though, is another matter. A false beginning is something that can never be forgiven. Like people whomake models of the Houses of Parliament entirely out of used cotton buds, the Umbilical Brothers should be congratulated on their dex- terity, but dissuaded from run- ning for major political office.

The Late Lock-In: The Brix, SW9 (0171 274 6470), last Friday of every month. The Umbilical Brothers: Arts Theatre WC2 (0171 836 2132), Mon to Sat to 16 Mar.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Junior DBA (SQL Server, T-SQL, SSIS, SSAS) London - Finance

    £30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior DBA (SQ...

    Business Anaylst

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

    Senior Project Manager

    £60000 - £90000 per annum + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Global leading Energy Tra...

    Associate CXL Consultant

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment