The Lunchtime Club

Thu 4th – Sun 28th August 2011

reviews

Madeleine Stottor

at 09:43 on 15th Aug 2011

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‘The Lunchtime Club’ is a stand-up compilation, showcasing five of the best young British comics. This year’s line-up comprises John Kearns, Max Dickins, Suzi Ruffell, Fin Taylor, and Joe Wells. All are so unrelentingly brilliant that if they are not household names by the end of their careers I would be shocked and disappointed.

Compere Kearns provides witty, often hilarious interludes, opening Sunday’s show by dancing with a more than willing audience member. A word of warning for the shy or faint-hearted: do not sit near the front. Dickins’ material on his adopted seal (the poor man’s beaver) and graphs detailing the correlation between quiche consumption and racism, as well as a consideration of the Nazi leanings of Mr Blobby are among the highlights of a brilliant set, as each anecdote leads into the next seamlessly. Suzi Ruffell’s is the only female comic of the group, and I think the only female comic I have ever found genuinely and consistently funny. Covering topics as diverse as relationship break-ups, lesbianism, bullying, and round robins, she is energetic and engaging. Taylor’s material feels less well structured, more scattered than the others’, but is some of the funniest on offer, particularly his impression of a dinosaur with rickets and observations on the Swedish language. Last to perform was Joe Wells, for me the stand-out stand-up of ‘The Lunchtime Club’. His brand of comedy is, as he points out, more intellectual and political, as he comments on the recent riots, bigotry, Nick Griffin, and post-modern feminism.

A five-star comedian is rare at the Fringe; to find five in an hour and a half should be impossible. And yet, this is exactly what ‘The Lunchtime Club’ provides. The comedy was relevant, relatable, and just really, really funny. Go and see this show before Kearns and co. get the recognition they deserve – you’ll have to pay far more than a £7 to see these comedians in the future.

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Harriet Baker

at 10:54 on 15th Aug 2011

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If you want 90 minutes of superb comedy, this show is an absolute must-see. It is brilliant. The host is John Kearns, who between acts delivers short bursts of hilarity and revs the audience to an excitable pitch. He enters to a deafening countdown in German, and proceeds to grab a woman from the audience with whom he dances on stage. He introduces four comedians: Max Dickens, Suzi Ruffell, Fin Taylor and Joe Wells. The format is perfect.

Max Dickens begins, “stand-up is a childish art form”. He’s childish but brilliant, making use of innuendo and doing a bizarre impression of a moth to express his sexual prowess. Particularly good is his piece about an adopted otter, before a slightly odd venture into Mr. Blobby’s manifesto about immigration. Though he substantiates with the use of a Venn diagram, so we are satisfied.

Suzi Ruffell follows with an excellent set. She chooses to focus primarily on her sexual orientation, yet this does not have the appearance of ‘female comedian banging on about the same issue.’ She does fantastic impressions of relatives feigning tolerance of her sexuality, before suggesting that lesbians should have a secret method of identification. She invents the “lesbian wave”, which is hilarious. Fin Taylor delivers a set loosely structured around themes of travel and ex-girlfriends. A trip to Sweden yields hilarious impressions of the language, likened to “German underwater”. Another joke revolves around girls’ obsession with wearing high heels, and his denial that they make legs look thinner. He pushes fun at Ryanair flights, language schools and the idea of punting in Oxford; “punting is for posh people. They sit in a narrow boat and throw focaccia at ducks.” Once he gets going, he is very good.

Joe Wells is hailed as the rising political comedian, and his jokes all tend towards political statement and satire. He tells of his accidental invitation of a cup of tea to a BNP campaigner at his door, to remark, “there was a fascist in my lounge. It was brilliant, I’d caught a Nazi.” His joke about feminism is particularly good, recounting the ages of “women in the kitchen”, then women demonstratively getting out of the kitchen, but now new-age feminists returning to the kitchen “ironically”.

This collection of comedians works perfectly, whilst John Kearns provides excellent humour in the interim. The packed venue and audience reception testifies. I cannot think of anything better to go and see over lunchtime.

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