Love Song For The Viciously Ambitious

Fri 10th – Tue 14th August 2018


Alannah Taylor

at 22:15 on 14th Aug 2018



'Love Song for the Viciously Ambitious', the one-man improv stand-up routine had its merits, but it definitely made me cringe more often than it made me laugh. Russell Hicks' vision of a more natural, free-form show is admirable, and even more so (as he specifically tells us several times) without the shoulders of improv partners to lean on. The disjointed, random style and lack of continuous narrative was interesting to note. Hicks had a great presence, and inhabited his slightly spaced-out, slightly angry stage persona well. However, I can’t say that I found the show especially funny.

The first few minutes especially were met with quite a few awkward silences, alternated by polite laughs. These opening jokes seemed to come from a reserve of pre-conceived material, and were certainly the worst. While the quips were mostly well delivered, they lacked subtlety or originality and often simply missed the mark. This was a shame, as I felt that this awkward start limited the rapport that Hicks was able to build with the audience, and detracting from the success of the interactions that followed. This beginning was not really rescued by ironic moaning about how unresponsive the audience were, or how unsuccessful the routine was. This self deprecating material earned a chuckle at first, but as it was dragged out and endlessly revisited it became exhausting.

The quality picked up towards the middle. Hicks’ most improvisational elements were certainly his strongest. His banter with the audience was impressive given the low energy level in the room. Certain gems from these exchanges (one woman claiming to be ‘NOT young’ at 27) were skilfully incorporated into quite a few great moments. However, as time went on he seemed to run out of steam. This was not helped by the audience’s general reserve. The last minutes brought a series of digs about how little effort he was putting in, along with a sense of the need to kill time until the end of the show.

However, as Hicks’ real talent lies mostly in feeding off of the audience, what ends up in the show will vary along with who ends up in the room. I would imagine that the piece has potential to be quite a lot more entertaining on a different day. With a free show, there isn’t much to lose from venturing to the Three Sisters at 5.45 to take your chances.


Verity Kim

at 08:50 on 15th Aug 2018



In 'Love Song for the Viciously Ambitious', Russell Hicks performs a piece of improv comedy that attempts to depart from the standard of people "trying too hard to make it." Making his appearance next to two cardboard cut-outs of himself, Hicks dived onto the stage and into his set with an incredible energy that made me excited to watch the show.

The set itself took some time to kick off, and with a limited amount of audience participation the first half of the show felt more like scripted comedy than improv, as Hicks waited for the room to warm up. Though his personal anecdotes were endearing and humorous, at first I was confused as to whether his show was meant to be an improv piece. It took a considerable amount of time for the audience to feel comfortable enough to start engaging with the comedian, and this hindered the show’s potential. Another thing that I found disappointing was that there was no overarching vision that linked all the individual jokes, creating a larger narrative. There was some continuity created by running jokes, but the show overall would have benefited a lot from a clearer title or theme.

Though the show itself did not reach its full potential as an improv set, 'Love Song for the Viciously Ambitious' was able to showcase Russell Hicks’ comedic talent. What stood out most for me was the energy he had on stage, as well as his general ability to sustain the audience’s interest. When he was able to connect with the audience, Hicks possessed a charm that made me interested to see what he would say next, and as the crowd began to warm up he was able to exhibit his knack for improvisation, which genuinely piqued my interest.

Overall, Russell Hicks’ 'Love Song for the Viciously Ambitious', while lacking in direction, provided a glimpse into the talents of this comedian, and I did have a good laugh during the show.


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