Best of the Fest’ showcases five comedians performing at the Brighton Comedy Festival, and although the night is value for money, and has some solid comedians and funny moments, you’re not really left in hysterical raptures.
Terry Alderton comperes, and while his physicality and range of vocals and impressions is outstanding, his unfortunate tendency to shout into the mic renders the acoustics irritatingly and unpleasantly loud.
Stephen Grant, the first act of the night, is funny and genuinely likeable, and brings in a bit of positive (albeit hardly revolutionary) social commentary. His comedic character stands in opposition to the slightly tiring trend of comedians thinking that creating a Gervaisesque persona of an unintentional bigot with no social graces is the pinnacle of modern comedy.
Having said this, Andrew Laurence manages the often attempted but rarely succeeded task of being brutal, crude and offensive and still being funny. His fierce self deprecation and general misanthropy had unintentional tinges reminiscent of Bill Hicks –surely a sacred compliment for any comedian. Vitally, to the success of his act, Lawrence is not inventing a persona, he gives the impression he is simply projecting himself, his experiences and his attitudes.
Kevin Bridges has a natural competency and confidence on stage, and his jokes and banter flow as if he’s chatting in the pub. Like Stephen Grant, he has a natural ‘average Joe’ feel which warms the audience and gets them behind him.
The last act of the night, Ivan Brackenbury, drags the lengthy but otherwise enjoyable show to a close. In character as the socially inept DJ of a minor hospital radio station (perhaps not entirely original?), there is a limited amount of appeal in watching someone tugging at their penis through sweatpants like the oddball on the bus. His unvaried formula of a dedication to a patient with a particular disease, followed by a completely inappropriate song, earns a decent smattering of laughs at first, which very quickly dwindles after repetitive shock tactics and eye-rolling bad-taste puns grow old.
A funny night, but hardly one of side-clutching, stomach-aching hilarity. Some of these comedians are definitely worth checking out in future, and may well come into their own with a full length set, but looking at some of the other big name acts at this festival, this is hardly the best of the fest.