ANYTHING WITH an exclamation mark in the title is to be regarded with the deepest suspicion. But the opening night of "The Festival of Fun!" at Richmond Theatre yesterday proved a lot better than its title. This was largely thanks to the inspired musical comedian Bill Bailey.
Stand-up and music are often a desperately unfunny combination but Bailey manages the rare trick of being musical and amusing at the same time.
Who else would have dreamt up the idea of a politicised Abba singing heartfelt songs about the Nazi occupation of Finland? Or the harpsichord accompaniment to a medieval porn flick?
Bailey was well aware that the reserved Richmond audience needed a bit of coaxing out of its shell. When his question - "Are you ready to rock?" - was met with polite silence, he sighed: "Not quite there yet, are we? No,you're ready for a bit of light dinner jazz, aren't you?" The evening did not, however, start in such fine style. Opener Steve Best ran through a sub Lee Evans act which involved lots of none-too-dazzling slapstick and a regrettable routine about granny breaking wind.
Jeff Green's choice of material was hardly earth-shattering - how many times have you heard a sequence about the difficulties drunk blokes have finding their front-door keys? But he has an undeniable charm and a neat way with a one-liner.
But by the close the previously genteel audience had been roused into a cheering, stomping rabble."You rocked it up in the end, Richmond," Bailey said as he soaked up the applause. "In a mildly leafy, suburban sort of way."Reuse content