Opinion: Welcome To The Never-Ending Comedy Tour

opinion piece

Welcome to the world of the never-ending tour. Adam Kay is doing a West End run at the Garrick Theatre of his latest show. Well, I say latest. It's the show I reviewed here in March 2017. And I was pretty late to the party even then. Kay had already performed the show at the Edinburgh Festival in 2016, which means that his show about his life as a hospital doctor is getting on for three years old. Maybe not due for the geriatric ward, but pretty senior in comedy terms.

While gloom-mongers say that the comedy bubble is due to burst any day now, things seem to be pretty rosy for successful shows, with tours constantly being extended due to our old favourite "phenomenal demand". Daniel Sloss keeps adding dates to his current show X - the success of his previous two shows on Netflix has taken his popularity to new levels.

After runs at the Soho Theatre, Leicester Square Theatre and the 02 Forum Sloss is back in London in May at the Palladium. Also coming to the Palladium is Sara Pascoe who is filming her show LadLadsLads there on March 10. This is another show that has been around for a while - since Edinburgh 2017. 

But back to Adam Kay. The continuing success of his show is interesting because it comes off the back of the success of his best-selling book, This Is Going To Hurt. And the book itself was commissioned after a publishing person saw the original show at the Edinburgh Fringe and thought there was a book in it. So the hit show spawned the book which spawned another year plus of touring the hit show. Nice work - and the hours aren't as long as working in a hospital either.

It used to be the case the performers worked on a yearly cycle, building up to Edinburgh in the summer, and all but the most successful acts on the Fringe would start thinking about their next Edinburgh show as soon as their train left Waverley Station. That thought might start with the two words "never again" but most would return for more punishment every year.

Yet now shows seems to have a much longer shelf life. One could not really expect Rose Matafeo to start work on a new show for summer 2019 when she was still performing her 2018 Edinburgh Comedy Award winning show in early 2019. With other acts I've noticed the phenomenon where performers such as Olga Koch are doing both old shows and work-in-progress shows for the sequel around the same time, which is a nice way to mess with your head. This week James Acaster did a work-in-progress show at the Vault Festival for his tour yet next week he is doing his finished show at the Vaudeville Theatre.

There does seem to be an insatiable appetite for great comedy. I reviewed Bill Bailey's Larks In Transit show when it first came to London last Spring. It then toured and then came back to London again for a Christmas run. Having played theatres all over the UK Bailey then announced an arena tour and will be visiting enormodomes until June this year. So far Bailey hasn't announced any more dates at London's biggest venues. But it wouldn't surprise me one jot if he did. Maybe some time in 2020.

 

 

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