BREVIEW: Phil Wang @ The Glee Club 11.03.18

Phil Wang @ The Glee Club 11.03.18

Words by Helen Knott

Phil Wang emerges on stage at The Glee Club to the strains of ‘Kung Fu Fighting’, setting the scene for an evening where the influence of his East Asian heritage is never too far away.

During this 90 minute show, titled Kinabalu – named after the highest mountain in Malaysia, Phil Wang covers a multitude of topics, from Chinese New Year, to his aim to die a hero’s death, to his dislike of scary movies (which he dismisses as “a purely western privilege” as no one needs to watch scary movies in Syria). Wang‘s on-stage persona is of a 28-year-old man who is probably not quite as cool as he thinks he is. He may equate buying lube with being a true adult, but he’s buying it in Waitrose and he’s not happy about the high price.

The set is littered with brilliant gags (personal favourite: “You ever done a fart so bad you lose a bar on the Wi-Fi?”) but Wang is most compelling when he concentrates on serious issues. His heritage – he’s half Malaysian, half British – gives him a strong voice on subjects such as Brexit, colonialism, and racism. Wang may have lived in the UK for his entire adult life, but he maintains an outsider’s point of view: for example, he feels more comfortable being patriotic than his British-born friends because he knows what it’s like to live somewhere without the things we take for granted. In short, “You can drink your tap water!”

Wang’s section on Brexit may include some fairly straightforward quips (“I voted remain, as you can tell by my vocabulary”) but it comes through the filter of his childhood in Malaysia, which was part of the British Empire. He argues that globalisation, which brought his parents together and Wang to the UK, came about because of entities like the British Empire. Therefore, in his eyes it’s not a wholly negative period of history, for Malaysia at least. He suggests that the EU is “the first empire built by peace instead of war”, and he’s disappointed that the British public rejected it. It’s interesting stuff, and a take on Brexit (a subject that no comedian seems to be able to avoid at the moment) that is genuinely fresh on the stand up circuit.

Despite the show’s focus on Phil Wang as an entity – his family, his career, his relationships – you get surprisingly little sense of Wang the man. He still has his guard up, often referring to himself in the third person and continually punning on his own surname for a cheap laugh. The only part of the show where it feels like you see the authentic Phil Wang is when, after a section about his girlfriend, he admits that they split up a month ago but he hasn’t bothered to change his material. It’s a fleeting feeling however, as the newly-single Wang quickly turns it into a hammy call-out for groupies.

As a show, Kinabalu is a little too long and doesn’t have much of an overarching thrust – it really just peters out at the end. But when you have jokes as good as Phil Wang, it doesn’t matter too much. Although on his next tour I’m hoping for maybe fewer lube stories and more insightful political analysis.

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BPREVIEW: The Gilded Merkin Burlesque & Cabaret @ The Glee Club (B’ham) 18.03.18

The Gilded Merkin Burlesque & Cabaret @ The Glee Club (B’ham) 18.03.18Words by Emily Doyle

On 18th March, The Gilded Merkin returns to The Glee Club Birmingham for another night of burlesque and cabaret. According to BBC’s John Hess, it will be “a hugely generous dollop of magical sophisticated glamour” – what better way to spend your Sunday evening?

Doors open at The Glee Club from 6pm with last entry at 6:45pm. Minimum age of entry is 18, with tickets priced at £15 – for direct show information, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

As usual, The Gilded Merkin is programmed and hosted by Scarlett Daggers – a fiery redhead with ten years experience on the UK burlesque circuit. Scarlett Daggers’ rockabilly flair also makes her a favourite at car shows and tattoo conventions up and down the country, and saw her perform at the F1 Grand Prix Silverstone.

Taking a break from his role as resident host for Tres Tres cabaret in Stafford and La De Da Cabaret in Derby, comedian and vocalist Stage Door Johnny will be joining the line-up at The Gilded Merkin. Known for his wit, charm, and love of musical theatre, Stage Door Johnny promises to have the audience “eating from the palm of his hand – sometimes literally…”

Also on the bill is international artist Miss Betsy Rose, who was ranked the UK’s number one burlesque performer of 2016 by 21st Century Burlesque Magazine. Miss Betsy Rose’s classic look and professional dance background embody the spirit of early burlesque, and have seen her appear in French Vogue, ID, Harpers Bazaar and Italian Playboy.

Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer will also be at The Gilded Merkin, combining jump-up, rap and banjolele to create an art form he’s labeled as ‘chap hop’. His electro-swing tracks have garnered a huge YouTube following and landed Mr.B live sessions with BBC Radio’s Rob Da Bank, Nick Grimshaw, Steve Lamacq and Shaun Keaveny, to name but a few. 

Also performing is Lolo Brow, a green haired Londoner who describes herself a neo-burlesque performer, drag queen and lizard lady. Named the Burlesque Awards Performer of the Year 2016, Lolo Brow combines her circus skills and total lack of respect for stage/audience boundaries to shock and delight. 

Last but certainly not least is Dave the Bear, who appears online under the username ‘bighairygrowler’; his various acts are said to involve, glitter, latex, mirror balls and his alter ego ‘Maria Beary’. Dave the Bear has previously appeared in all his hirsute glory on the cover of Playbear magazine, as well as showing off his comedy chops on 8 out of 10 Cats and The Xtra Factor. 

If there’s not something in The Gilded Merkin‘s showcase of burlesque and cabaret that grabs your attention this Sunday, I don’t know what to say to you… Try church? 

The Gilded Merkin presents a showcase of burlesque and cabaret at The Glee Club on Sunday 18th March – presented by Scarlett Daggers. For direct show information, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit

For more on The Gilded Merkin, visit

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BPREVIEW: Phil Wang @ Glee Club 11.03.18

Phil Wang @ Glee Club 11.03.18

Words by Helen Knott

Comedian Phil Wang brings his fourth stand-up show, Kinabalu, to Birmingham’s Glee Club on Sunday 11th March.

Doors open at the Glee Club from 7pm to 7:30pm, with the show scheduled to start at 8pm. Minimum age of entry is 14, with tickets are priced at £12 plus booking fee. For direct show information, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

At the time of writing, Phil Wang is in the midst of an unlikely controversy. Apparently, in a yet-to-be-aired edition of the BBC’s TV favourite Room 101, Wang nominates Hollywood heartthrob Tom Hiddleston to be sent to the infamous room – the place of pet hates. A pretty solid choice you might think, but Hiddleston’s fans (the ‘Hiddlestoners’) are not amused. Wang is getting some serious stick on Twitter.

I’m sure that he doesn’t mind too much. Wang’s comedy often crosses the boundary into things it’s probably not okay to say out loud. He’s not one to beat around the bush on sensitive issues like race or sex or colonialism. Wang’s upbringing – he lived in Malaysia until he his mid-teens before moving to the UK – means that he gets away with a lot of it; he’s allowed to say that the British Empire isn’t all bad, because he has experienced life living in an arm of the British Empire firsthand.

It also means that Wang has ready-made ‘otherness’, something that many other comedians work to manufacture. His name is a perfect distillation of this: he’s half British, half Malaysian, and consequently feels like he doesn’t completely fit in anywhere. This is reflected in his material, and means that Wang can tell us plenty of insightful things about British attitudes to race from an outsider’s point of view.

Phil Wang will be performing his fourth solo show, Kinabalu, which has been solidly picking up four star reviews since it debuted at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe. This performance is part of an extended UK tour, which began at the end of 2017, and has featured a number of sold out shows. This backs-up Wang’s burgeoning TV career, including appearances on Have I Got News for You, Live at the Apollo, and Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, hosted by Jimmy Carr, in which beat fellow comedian Ed Gamble.

If it seems like Wang’s career is going pretty well for someone still in their mid-twenties, it should come as no surprise when you look back at his teenage years. He was performing stand-up sets before university and actively targeted a place at Cambridge so that he could be a member of the famous theatrical society Cambridge Footlights (previous members include Douglas Adams, Stephen Fry, Richard Ayoade and John Oliver). Alongside a degree in Engineering, Wang became president of Footlights and won the Chortle Student Comedian of the Year award. This is clearly a focused and ambitious man.

So far, that ambition, coupled with his unique point of view on British and East Asian culture, are making for a winning combination. Let’s just hope that the Hiddlestoners don’t get him.

Phil Wang – Live at the Apollo

Phil Wang brings his Kinabalu stand up show to the Glee Club (B’ham) on Sunday 11th March. For direct show information, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit

For more on Phil Wang, visit

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BPREVIEW: Lloyd Griffiths in:Undated @ Glee Club (B’ham) 23.02.18

Lloyd Griffiths in:Undated @ Glee Club (B’ham) 23.02.18

Words by Ed King / Pic by Karla Gowlett

On Friday 23rd February, Lloyd Griffiths brings his new one man stand up show, in:Undated, to the Glee Club in Birmingham. 

Doors are open at the Arcadian Centre venue from between 8:00pm – 8:15pm, with the show starting at 8:30pm. Latecomers won’t be allowed entry once the doors have closed, so don’t dawdle (not that you should ever try and sneak into a stand up show late… fatal error). Tickets are priced at £10 (standard) and £8 (students) – for direct show information, including venue details and online tickets sales, click here.

Known for many things, from being Jack Whitehall’s tour support act to the presenter of Soccer AM on Sky Sports, Lloyd Griffiths has been honing his stand up skills since around 2014 – including a stint on the BBC 1 Comedy Lounge stage. Griffiths’ new solo stand up show, in:Undated, was debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017, before the comedian’s first nationwide tour brings him to the Glee Club in Birmingham in February 2018.

A fervent Grimsby Town FC supporter and upfront football fanatic, Griffiths also has an impressive roll call as a sports presenter – fronting shows for many major broadcasters, including Sky Sport, BBC, Talksport and Absolute Radio. Griffiths also hosted BBC Three’s Taxi to Training, where he ferried footballers to their training grounds in a single camera shot show filmed from the dashboard. Sounds like a catchy format. Griffiths also recently took over from Helen Chamberlain as the chair of Soccer AM on Sky Sports, one of the more high profile presenter roles for a sports broadcaster. Not bad for a man who cut his TV teeth on Songs of Praise.

But whilst sport can play a significant part in Griffiths material, his in:Undated show goes a little left field for the ‘aspiring goalkeeper’… if you’ll excuse the pun. ‘A show about overcoming the overwhelming’, in:Undated looks to open up the more personal side of this stand up, with material focused on relationships, break ups, the trials and tribulations of dating apps, and comfort eating.

There’s probably a song or two in there as well – as Griffiths is also an accomplished chorister, performing with the choirs of Westminster Abbey, St George’s Chapel and Windsor Castle. Blimey. Is there anything this man can’t do… off the pitch, at least.

Lloyd Griffiths – BBC Comedy Lounge (2014)

Lloyd Griffiths brings his one man stand up show in:Undated to the Glee Club (B’ham) on Friday 23rd February. For direct show information, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit

For more on Lloyd Griffiths, visit 

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BREVIEW: Fern Brady – Suffer, Fools! @ Glee Club (B’ham) 29.01.18

Fern Brady – Suffer, Fools! @ Glee Club (B’ham) 29.01.18

Words by Helen Knott

Fern Brady was meant to perform at the Glee Club’s Studio on Friday night rather than today, a Monday, but a date mix up meant that she was in Sweden instead. A Friday night gig would have likely made for a larger audience, with the overspill of people too late to get into the main room plumping up the numbers. But, on the positive side, tonight’s good natured crowd is here specifically to see Brady. They are attentive and they get it.

Brady’s show is called Suffer, Fools! and it takes us through a number of dramatic episodes in her life, from experiences in dead end jobs (serving breakfast to paedophiles and murderers, working as a stripper) to an abusive relationship that culminated with an attempt on her life. Heavy topics for a comedy show perhaps, but Brady keeps things light and fast-moving, using these life events as a backbone to talk around a number of contemporary issues.

The lack of gay marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland, for instance. In Brady’s eyes: “All homophobes are gay. It’s just a waiting game.” She suggests it’s not gay people ruining the definition of traditional marriage – straight people do it all the time. She backs this up with examples, like her father’s second marriage to “Julie from Milton Keynes” and tall women marrying short men (“I think it’s against nature”). Brady cleverly parrots the language around homophobia when defending her own relationship with an Irish guy who is shorter than herself: “We look stupid together… but love is love.”

Fern Brady – Suffer, Fools! TourBrady mentions having to amend some of her jokes before the BBC will broadcast them, in particular one about DUP leader Arlene Phillips. She can go a little close to the mark, but always with the aim of making an important point, as is the case with her material about sexual harassment. Brady claims to have been complaining about being sexually harassed on the street for the past five years, but was taken as seriously as, “ghosts or homeopathy”. How times have changed. She calls out celebrities such as Joanna Lumley, Angela Lansbury and Liam Neeson for undermining the seriousness of the accusations against Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Louis CK. Brady’s understated delivery is largely quiet and deliberate, so when she does raise her voice to make an indignant point it has plenty of impact.

The final section of Suffer, Fools! looks at two of Brady’s dysfunctional past relationships. A story about a bad break-up with a posh boy at university explores issues of class (“I don’t fuck outside my class”) and eating disorders. It ends violently, but not as violently as an abusive relationship in her twenties where her boyfriend attempts to smother her with a pillow. It was all a long time ago and Brady refrains from making any profound points about what happened, even if she jokes that this would get her an extra star in a Guardian review.

It all leads up to a very silly, but funny final scene that pulls together a number of jokes from the show. It’s a fitting climax to a very well thought-out hour of comedy in which Brady doesn’t shy away from the darker side of life and is brutal in her pursuit of a zippy punchline. This, along with her low-key delivery, sets her apart from other new comics on the block. I hope that the BBC doesn’t polish too much of the weirdness out of her.

For more on Fern Brady, visit

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