Review: Harry Hill, Hammersmith Apollo,

Harry Hill

This really was one of the most wonderful and most weird big-venue gigs I've ever seen, from the unique entrance to the grandstanding finale. At 48 it would be understandable for Harry Hill to started winding down and doing less physically and mentally demanding shows. Instead his Sausage Time tour has totally ramped up the Hill madness. He might have been moaning about the pressure of watching too much television towards the end of TV Burp but it seems to have inspired him to greater heights of lunacy.

I haven't seen a stage covered in so much detritus since the first Vic Reeves tour two decades ago. On the way into the venue an old mattress was leaning up against the steps of the Hammersmith Apollo. It was not long before it ended up onstage alongside a paddling pool, discarded hairbrushes that hill claimed resembled ice creams and eventually an actual tipped-out bag of rubbish. Here's a bit of insider information. Hill changed agents a while ago and I can't help thinking that part of the reason for putting so much effort into Sausage Time is to show the old ones what they are missing, a bit like an ex-girlfriend going on a crash diet, buying sexy new clothes and then walking up and down outside your house.

A version of this article appeared in the Evening Standard here. Unfortunately there was no room in the article to mention Hill's two onstage backing bands The Caterers and The Harrys, who may or may not have been the same musicians, both led by Hill's regular collaborator Steve Brown. Hill is still touring, details here. Read an interview with Hill here. If you like your comedy with a demented edge buy a ticket. In fact if you like comedy full stop buy a ticket.

 

Halfway through the second half, shortly after wrestling with a man from Dignitas, Harry Hill made an announcement. “By the way, this is not a dream.” It was kind of him to point that out because his first live show for eight years frequently feels like a wonderful out-of-body experience.

All the usual oddball gags are present, such as one about the woman who overdosed on the morning-after pill and woke up in the future, but the big-collared clown has upped the ante to the point where this
seems less like stand-up, more reminiscent of a hybrid of vaudeville and surrealist performance art.

Props soon clutter the stage as the wilfully silly star sings pop classics, sometimes in Tongan, or plays Bond themes badly on the trombone. Elsewhere, he dances like rubber-legged icon Max Wall.

Throughout he plays Lord of Misrule to perfection. It might look chaotic but this is clearly well-crafted nonsense. If a gag does not pack a knockout punchline the chances are that it is laying the groundwork for a devastating callback later.

Only a spoilsport would reveal the finale but audience interaction, ukeleles and a ventriloquist’s dummy play crucial roles in building to one of the most spectacularly ridiculous climaxes ever seen in a British comedy show. A real dream of a comeback.

 

 

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