Review: Leave ‘Em Laughing at Stanley Halls, 6th May 2018


By - Tuesday 15th May, 2018

An evening of humour and wit in South Norwood


Image by Stanley Halls, used with permission.

When asked about the position of the poet in society, Dylan Thomas replied: “Definitely vertical!”. By this token, stand-up comedians are the poets of boundless notion. Their trick is to remain firmly erect on stage, by building an untoppled tower of amusement with words. Unlike the stand-up, bar-room row, the challenging exchange between the crafty jester and his/her audience is to jump-start the imagination and to detonate the plosive power of zinger, quip and raillery to cause the seat or wing of levity – between the elbow and the humerus/humorous – to twitch and heave in response.

Vivacious MC, Caroline Newte Hardie, broke open this casket of jocundity, giving the lie to that old jibe that a German mother-in-law joke is no laughing matter.

Then on sloped Paul Duncan Mcgarrity, nursing his own broken wing sustained, he claimed, sword fighting in full armour. This anguished displacement from the wince of pain made his violent pastime ridiculously plausible.

It was now clear that the exposure of private neuroses was the name of this game

Mike Shephard opened with a soul-scraping burst of the blues on his harmonica and riffed nostalgic for old T-shirts and how the geezers down the pub in rural Sussex would trump the fate of the nation. By now it was clear that exposure of private neuroses was the name of the game and we were a bank of psychiatrists.

Sara Barron is an Anglophiliac American and proved that there is romance in the lavatorial – pace Alan Bennett, it is entirely possible to polish and gild a turd – if only in the mind. And Joe Sutherland is a thin, acerbic, elfin wit – though not yet man enough to cry in public. He has clearly “taken the UK comedy circuit by the balls” – and by the bum, too.

Abigoliah Schamaun, a pink-crested punk, is another Anglophiliac American – the common language is contagious, though her measured use of effing did much to heighten her impact as she railed against guns and Trumpery.

Such daydream jesting is now a viable career alternative to doing a bullshit day job. After all, what is the gift of laughter, if not the priceless ability to dislocate a mind ambushed by surprise?

Barnaby Powell

I'm a former development banker (in Europe and East and South-East Asia) and a Croydon resident for over 25 years. Currently I write and speak (mainly to schools and universities) on China and the impact of its rise on the rest of us. I'm also a school governor at Archbishop Tenison's School and a leader of the Croydon U3A China Group.

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