Marissa's Manchester Comedy Festival Diary - O2 Apollo Manchester - 27th Oct

Though the comedy festival is about all the acts and shows whatever their experience or notoriety - the newcomers and the circuit acts as well as the household names - it's always nice to have a big name on the programme to highlight the festival as a whole. Aside from Rob Brydon at the Royal College of Music the biggest name this year has to be Stephen Merchant and his three nights at the Apollo.

The Office and Extras co-writer has been on a nationwide tour for a few weeks now and most reports have told of a good show. Yet it still feels weird that Merchant is out performing solo without his sidekick Gervais, particularly as Gervais is the one that you think of as the performer of the two writers.

However Merchant had first tried stand up in 1998 and it was only the swift success of the Office in 2001 and subsequent writing accomplishments that have kept him away from the circuit. Keen to get back he booked in to do some dates despite still having plenty of writing work to do.

And what a show it is. He can certainly back up the three nights at the Apollo and his apparent popularity. The first night was almost full, the Friday sold out and a third date, Saturday was added.

The premise to Merchant's show, entitled Hello Ladies is that he's on the look out for a wife. But of course there are things that get in the way – largely his life long membership of geek club and his love of pedantry. He likes nothing more than to work out everyone's exact restaurant bill on his Casio Calculator watch. Elsewhere he pokes fun at Venn diagrams but it's a running gag in the show that he seems to enjoy using a little too much just to be simply poking fun...

We've only really seen his appearance as Darren Lamb, Andy Millman's hapless agent in Extras but on that big stage by himself he's a skilled performer of his own material, it's a wonder he hasn't done this earlier. Much of the material is accompanied by mimed actions to enhance the humour – a favourite is his imagining of the scenario when a gynaecologist asked out one of his patients.

Also another special mention for the support act. This time the fine talent that is Josh Widdicombe. Since winning the Leicester Comedian of the Year in 2010 he's been making steady headway out there on the circuit with a solid set of gags amusingly middle aged pedantry – lovely compliment to Merchant's act – can't be too long before his work's all over the telly too.

Visit website here


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home