Live Review: Old Comedian of the Year, Leicester Square Theatre: Page 2 of 2

Tim Shishodia

Last act in the first half was Oxford accountant Vahid Jahangard, who claimed to be both Muslim and Jewish and as a result was circumcised twice. His style was a little rigid, but it suited his material and his personality. He also had some quite edgy banter about the Koran which I’m not going to repeat here. Maybe the judges were scared off by it too as he was unplaced despite being quite impressive.

First act after the interval was self-styled miserable Scot Tony Dunn, who, like Matt Hollins, did feel a little like a boring man in a suit until he hit his stride. In fact funnily enough his best routine was about being a man in a suit. He was just getting going when his time ran out. While it is unlikely he was about to grab first prize if he had had longer he might have fared better. 

Sol Bernstein (alias Steve Jameson) was a familiar name from the London circuit. Like Lynn Ruth Miller his insult comedy is pure Catskills/Jackie Mason. In fact one of the best things about him is that he is cheaper than Jackie Mason. But Bernstein was very funny indeed and had a great gig, peppering his eccentric patter with references to Anne Frank and Rolf Harris. I thought he could easily have been placed, but the judges thought differently.

Ms Samantha Mann was the biggest oddball of the evening. She – I think it was a she – claimed to be a poet rather than a stand-up and wondered in her posh voice if she should be there at all. The audience was confused, but clearly amused by this character and again I could have seen a different set of judges awarding the prize to Mann just for being the most refreshingly off the wall contestant. But again, Mann had to make do with the glory of being a finalist.

I expected big things of Gerry Howell, but then I’ve been expecting big things of Howell ever since I saw him in the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year final in 2008. Yet he seemed a little out of sorts tonight and also a little too derivative. His humour is often on the surreal side but a longer story about how being poorly over Easter he was following in the footsteps of Jesus was just a little too much like Eddie Izzard. Howell still shows great promise. Hopefully at some point he will fulfil that promise. 

The audience should have been flagging by the time penultimate act Tim Shishodia (pictured) came on, but he was clearly someone who had something special. The loud-shirted 43-year-old also took his time to speak, but before he had even opened his mouth I’d written down the words “funny bones”. He just seemed to have something about him, even when his jokes or style were not that original. There was a bit of Tony Law here, a bit of Tommy Cooper there. I’m trying to read my notes back now, but I was writing so fast so that I didn’t miss hearing a word or an expression I can barely read my scribbles. Needless to say he was the winner. 

The finally act was another familiar name from the circuit. Dr George Ryegold is the comic creation of Toby Williams and thank goodness for that because if he was a real working doctor I think he’s have been struck off by now. Ryegold’s forte is taking a subject and then getting very verbose with it. For some reason he was talking about glory holes and cocaine tonight. Maybe these should be the subjects close to the heart of every comedian over 35 because they stood Ryegold in good stead. He was awarded second place.

While three or four acts could have been crowned winner without an argument, there is no doubt that Shishodia has something special. 

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