Saturday, July 28, 2012

A teensy bit tame - review of Seann Walsh and Josh Widdicombe

Newbury Comedy Festival: Seann Walsh - Seann To Be Wild, and Josh Widdicombe - Further Adventures Of... at New Greenham Arts on Thursday, July 10

I’VE had Seann Walsh on my to-do list for quite a while, but I can’t quite remember why - I probably saw him on a television panel show and was charmed by his easy wit and lovely hair.

But there was something ever so slightly “meh” about the preview of his Edinburgh Fringe show, Seann To Be Wild, at New Greenham Arts last Thursday. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it for a couple of days - it was a reasonably slick performance (taking into account that it was a show in-preparation), there was definitely some funny stuff in there and the material fitted well with the theme (Walsh’s love of alcohol and exploits while drinking).

And then, while watching Alexei Sayle’s book reading at The Corn Exchange on Saturday, a comment made by Sayle about today’s stand-up scene made perfect sense. Preparing for a return to stand-up after a 16 year hiatus, the godfather of alternative comedy immersed himself in the current comedy scene, and concluded that while stand-up comics of today are prepared to reveal all sorts of intimate information about themselves, today’s taboo subject seems to be politics. Sayle’s opinion is that the 21st century UK comedy scene’s world view is a generally nihilistic one, with few comics delving deeper than a Mock The Week level of lampooning of the state of affairs.

And so it was with Walsh - and, to a certain extent, Josh Widdicombe as well, whose material, about the little annoyances and confusions of life (the backstories to boardgames for example) was wider ranging, and so hit more targets than Walsh’s drinking tales, but it just wasn’t that memorable. I am aware that one issue with preparing an Edinburgh show is that the performers have to submit their show title, and even the blurb about it, months before the event, and thus before they have even written it, meaning that their material has to then be tailored to the title, which is probably not going to be an approach that works well for everyone.

I don’t mean to come across as damning here; both Walsh and Widdicombe are very able comics, with the sort of able humour which works excellently on television shows and a confidence in their ability which could see them go far. Theirs is the sort of safe-but-funny comedy which goes down well on a wide scale, and I wouldn’t be surprised if either or both of them make it as big as the likes of Russell Howard and Michael MacIntyre. Nothing to set the world on fire; but two secure pairs of hands.

  • First published in the Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, July 19, 2012

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