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

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

Words by Helen Knott

Comedian Fern Brady brings her third solo show – Suffer, Fools! – to Birmingham’s Glee Club on 29th  January. Tickets are £12 in advance, with doors open at 8pm for an 8.30pm start. For direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

*The Fern Brady Suffer, Fools! show on 29th January has been rescheduled from its original date of 26th January. For more information on refunds or issues relating to the rescheduling, please contact The Glee Club box office on 0871 472 0400*

Fern Brady is quickly building momentum as one of the UK’s most promising up-and-coming comedians.

If an appearance on Stewart Lee’s Comedy Central show The Alternative Comedy Experience was an early badge of quality, this has been backed up with approving reviews and high profile appearances on Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central and Channel Four’s 8 Out of 10 Cats. Brady starts 2018 embarking on a long UK tour, followed by a string of dates at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, before another series of dates back in the UK.

Brady reportedly first tried stand-up comedy after the magazine she wrote for during the Edinburgh Fringe suggested she write an article where she faked it as a comedian. What the magazine didn’t know was that Brady secretly wanted to try stand-up comedy anyway, so took the gig much more seriously than was strictly needed. She hasn’t looked back, eventually making the final of the Fringe’s prestigious award for stand-up newcomers, So You Think You’re Funny, in 2011.

Just don’t label her a ‘Scottish’ comedian. Brady is uncomfortable being a talking head on issues of Scottish independence and is reportedly unimpressed with the English’s preoccupation with her nationality. But perhaps (after watching several YouTube snippets) some of the problem with the later lies in the fact that Brady‘s fairly broad accent (to my English ears, anyway) bolsters her no-nonsense delivery. And God bless this green and pleasant land, but an English accent just doesn’t have the same clout.

But of course, there’s much more to Fern Bady than being Scottish. Her autobiographical material (she claims to be terrible at making things up, so everything she talks about on stage is true) is self-assured, knowing and easy to relate to. This is a great chance to see a comedian on the up, in a relatively intimate venue. I’d get in quick, before she’s packing out arenas.

Fern Brady on Seann Walsh’s Late Night Comedy Spectacular

Fern Brady brings her Suffer, Fools! tour to The Glee Club (B’ham) on Monday 29th January – rescheduled from 26th January. For direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit www.glee.co.uk/performer/fern-brady-tour

For more on Fern Brady, visit www.fernbrady.co.uk

For more from The Glee Club venues, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.glee.co.uk

BREVIEW: Andy Zaltzman @ The Glee Club (B’ham) 19.01.17

Andy Zaltzman @ The Glee Club (B’ham) 19.01.17

Words by Helen Knott

Andy Zaltzman is perhaps best known for his political podcast The Bugle, which he originally presented with Brummie comedian John Oliver, before Oliver (as Zaltzman jokes, “the notorious Birmingham traitor”) moved to America to present the satirical talkshow Last Week Tonight on HBO.

Indeed tonight’s show, Satirist for Hire, has the air of an off-the-cuff, topical podcast. There’s no co-presenter, so instead Zaltzman bounces off the audience with the show based on our suggestions of topics that we would like to be satirised. It’s a clever way of creating a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, with the crowd in the packed and stuffy Glee Club studio space – comfortable enough to join Zaltzman in the spotlight, as they make suggestions and talk about their interests.

This does mean that Zaltzman isn’t always the one with the funniest lines, however. The biggest laugh of the night comes when Zaltzman, tongue in cheek of course, asks the audience if there is any way at all that America is better than Britain. Someone shouts out, “America has John Oliver”. Ouch. But Zaltzman is a humble and generous enough performer to not let this faze him – hecklers are gently chided, rather than brutally put down.

It’s also almost inevitable that, when the premise is that the jokes are based on issues suggested by the audience, the resulting show is going to be patchy and disjointed. No matter how good a comedian is, there are always going to be some subjects that they just don’t know enough about. Tonight is a real mixed bag, with suggestions including Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, “standards of driving in Birmingham”, The Ashes, “graduation and despair” (Zaltzman quips, “my favourite Mike Leigh film”) and “the oeuvre of 80s hair metal band Kiss”.

Some of these subjects work better than others. Zaltzman‘s section on Brexit, where he examines some of the reasons people voted the way that they did (“let’s not forget that there were fuckwits on both sides of this”) is really funny. Less successful are attempts to tell jokes about Kiss and Star Wars – two things Zaltzman admits to having little interest in. Jokes about sport, including cricket, football and even snooker, are strong, though sometimes a little niche. After a gag about French nuclear testing gets a lukewarm response, Zaltzman jokes, “this gig’s got everything”.

Zaltzman himself admits that the show is “a bit up and down, not sure I’ve been on the top of my game”. If a comedian is delivering basically the same scripted set for every show, having an off-night isn’t going to have such a big impact as it does in a freer format, like this one. Having said that, not even the pre-prepared sections of the evening completely hit home. Zaltzman ends the set with a twenty-minute section about Trump; the idea is that if he can turn Trump into a cricket fan he will naturally become a better person, as all cricket fans are good people. It’s certainly a novel way of addressing Trump comedically, but it’s much too long and the final punchline just isn’t funny enough.

In essence, this sketch sums up the whole gig. It’s a fun evening, but the show would have benefit from a tighter structure and some sharper gags. Zaltzman’s likeable comedy persona isn’t quite enough to hold things together, resulting in a gig that has its moments, but never reaches the heights of the very best satirical comedy.

Andy Zaltzman – Satirist for Hire

For more on Andy Zaltzmanvisit www.andyzaltzman.co.uk

For more from The Glee Club venues, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.glee.co.uk

BPREVIEW: Andy Zaltzman @ The Glee Club (B’ham) 19.01.17

Andy Zaltzman @ The Glee Club (B’ham) 19.01.17

Words by Helen Knott

Andy Zaltzman brings his 2018 tour of Satirist for Hire to The Glee Club (B’ham) on Friday 19th January. Tickets are £12 (adv) and doors open at 8pm, for a 8.30pm start. For direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

Stand-up comedian, broadcaster, author and cricket fanatic, Andy Zaltzman has been lauded as ‘Probably one of the finest satirical comedians this country’s ever produced’ (Time Out).

Zaltzman is perhaps best known as the writer and presenter of satirical podcast The Bugle, one of the most popular comedy podcasts on iTunes, attracting over one million downloads a month. Zaltzman originally presented The Bugle with Brummie comedian John Oliver, who has since made quite a name for himself stateside, antagonising politicians and world leaders as host of HBO’s excellent Last Week Tonight.

Zaltzman and Oliver originally started The Bugle back in 2007, as an audio newspaper for The Times newspaper. When the phone-hacking scandal broke (incriminating staff at Rupert Murdoch’s other papers The Sun and News of the World) the duo were scathing on the subject, which led to them getting fired. Which goes to show nothing should get in the way of an important satirical joke – even if your job depends on it.

As well as regular appearances on the now independently run Bugle, Zaltzman pops up on panel shows on TV and radio and is particularly known for his love of sport. He has previously hosted an Ashes show for BBC 5Live called Yes! It’s the Ashes! and over the past few months has presented an Ashes podcast with Felicity Ward for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. If you’re a cricket fan I very much recommend following him on Twitter.

Satirist for Hire debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival back in 2013, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that it will be a stale repetition of an almost five-year-old set. Zaltzman has asked the audience to email in topics that we would like to be satirised beforehand (you can do so right now, on his website). Topics can be any issue/person/concept or thing that you would like Zaltzman to discuss – ‘All issues considered (within reason)’.

This format is a clever way of keeping a topical show fresh and relevant, which is difficult if you’re touring the same material for 18 months, especially considering the speed at which the news moves. It should make things fun and current, with Zaltzman utlising his unparalleled verbal dexterity to explore the news of the day.

Let’s just hope that he puts in a better performance than England’s cricketers managed Down Under.

Andy Zaltzman – Satirist for Hire

Andy Zaltzman brings his Satrist for Hire tour to The Glee Club (B’ham) on Friday 19th January. For direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit www.glee.co.uk/performer/andy-zaltzman

For more on Andy Zaltzman, visit www.andyzaltzman.co.uk

For more from The Glee Club venues, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.glee.co.uk

BREVIEW: Maisie Adam – Living on the Edge @ The Glee Club 14.10.17

Maisie Adam - Living on the Edge @ The Glee Club 14.10.17

Words by Helen Knott

Maisie Adam has only been a stand-up comedian for a year, but she has made more progress in those twelve months than many comedians manage in a much longer career. Her stand-out achievement so far was winning the So You Think You’re Funny competition at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; SYTYF is the UK’s most prestigious competition for new comedians, with past winners including David O’Doherty, Dylan Moran and Peter Kay.

Living on the Edge, then, is Adam’s first ever show. She explains that she only graduated from drama school last year and decided that she’s not ready to “adult” yet (I try to ignore my dislike of the modern use of the word ‘adult’ as a verb). The resulting show is a series of anecdotes from Adam’s fairly fledgling life experience so far – she’s only 23.

Some of these anecdotes are funnier than others. Her story about falling out of a second story window in an attempt to impress a one-night-stand is excellent, but her segment about the British abroad felt a little obvious and clichéd. Still, she keeps the energy up well, she’s likeable, and her patter with the audience is natural and funny.

And it was a tough crowd. Adam described it at the end as, “one of the weirdest gigs I’ve done”. It turns out that fifteen very sober people in The Glee Club at 5.30pm on a Saturday doesn’t make for the most energetic comedy audience. No doubt Adam will have much weirder gigs during her career, but tonight was quite a tricky situation. She largely managed it with confidence, though some punchlines felt a little thrown away in her speedy delivery.

Ultimately, the show would have benefited from a stronger overarching narrative and structure. Adam’s big theme was her claim to be dysfunctional, but that didn’t ring quite true. She just won one of the biggest comedy awards in the country and it seems like things are going pretty well to be honest. Plus most people are a bit awkward as children and have embarrassing romantic encounters; it’s normal stuff.

Living on the Edge is a solid first show, but to be in the same league as those past SYTYF winners Adam needs to work out her USP as a comedian. She can’t spend her whole career telling anecdotes about school teachers, her gap year, or the weird classes she took at drama school.

But Maisie Adam will continue to learn her trade, and her quick wit and charm will always make her great company – she could just do with some stronger material. Maybe some time “adulting” is in order after all.

For more on Maisie Adam, visit www.maisieadam.wixsite.com/comedy

For more from The Glee Club, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.glee.co.uk

For more on the Birmingham Comedy Festival 2017, visit www.bhamcomfest.co.uk

BPREVIEW: Maisie Adam – Living on the Edge @ The Glee Club 14.10.17

Maisie Adam - Living on the Edge @ The Glee Club 14.10.17

Words by Helen Knott 

Comedian Maisie Adam performs her show Living on the Edge at The Glee Club on Saturday 14 October, as part of the Birmingham Comedy Festival. For direct info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

Adam has been a stand-up comedian for less than a year, performing her first show in October 2016 shortly after graduating from university. While she may not have spent years plying her trade on the toilet circuit, she has very quickly started to create a stir in the comedy world. Sometimes, if you’re good, you’re good.

This all culminated with arguably the biggest night of Maisie Adam’s career to date. At the start of August, at the Edinburgh Fringe, she won So You Think You’re Funny,Maisie Adam - Living on the Edge @ The Glee Club 14.10.17 the UK’s most famous competition for young comedians. Past winners include David O’Doherty, Dylan Moran and Peter Kay, so SYTYF certainly isn’t a bad barometer of talent.

Adam has been described as a more eccentric version of Peter Kay and likened to Victoria Wood. Based on this, it’s fair to assume that her show will be observational, good-natured, and well, northern. Entitled Living on the Edge it’s a portrayal of life on the edge of adulthood, featuring stories about the politics of the playground and the British abroad.

With an award win, festival performances and comparisons to comedy greats under her belt, Maisie Adam has a lot to live up to. And whilst she may not be the finished article, yet, this could well be a first look at someone who will be popping up all over TV and radio in the years ahead.

So You Think You’re Funny? (2017 Grand Final) – Maisie Adam

For more on Maisie Adam, visit www.maisieadam.wixsite.com/comedy

For more from The Glee Club, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.glee.co.uk

For more from the Birmingham Comedy Festival 2017, visit www.bhamcomfest.co.uk