Opinion: Comedy Gigs of the Year 2015: Page 2 of 2

5. Simon Amstell – Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Some comics talk about anything, Amstell only really ever talks about himself. The king of neurotic narcissism was on excellent form reflecting once again on his inability to enjoy live fully in the moment. Go elsewhere for topical gags about Jeremys Clarkson and Corbyn, go to Amstell for a painfully funny essay on what it is to be Simon Amstell. 


4. Dara O Briain – Eventim Apollo

Another one of those mega-comics that it is easy to take for granted, but imposing polymath O Briain is a stand-up who makes a very difficult job look insanely easy. In Crowd Tickler he found the funny in subjects as diverse as the world shortage of helium and the bit of a woman’s thigh that men find sexy. And, of course, he worked the audience like a gold standard puppet master.


3. Daniel Kitson’s Polyphony – Summerhall, Edinburgh

Obviously Kitson had to make the list. He could have made it for Tree which I saw for the first time this year at the Old Vic, but Polyphony, which I saw in Edinburgh, was something else indeed. Kitson loves to be the centre of attention and of course, he was, but the audience also played their part, cueing up pre-recorded dialogue from multiple characters that the bearded wunderkind interacted with. Yes, it was another piece about memory, feelings and humanity, but then isn’t everything? 


2. Bill Bailey – Vaudeville Theatre

Limboland was a show that I went into with medium-sized expectations. I’ve always loved Bill Bailey yet I’d never loved him enough to put him in my comedy top ten. Yet somehow he got everything right here. The mix of whimsy and politics. The mix of wordplay and stories. In fact even when something went wrong on opening night and a technical hitch meant that he couldn’t do his Moby Masterclass he pulled victory from the jaws of defeat with a mad Irish reel and some death metal Abba. 


1. Joseph Morpurgo – Pleasance, Edinburgh

Morpurgo’s high concept shows had previously left me cold. Clever ideas, not enough jokes. For me everything clicked into place this year. The first time I had a ticket to see Soothing Sounds For Baby I arrived one minute late and was not allowed in. This made me look forward to it even more and it didn’t disappoint. A framing device of a fictional Desert Island Discs interview allowed him to throw everything you can imagine at the metaphorical wall, from visual gags to mass audience participation to a rap about golf technique. It seemed obscure but won everyone over, getting a spontaneous standing ovation the night I was in. 






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