Our first show of the day is one of the best reasons to come to the Edinburgh Fringe – it’s Joe Wells Doesn’t Want to Do Political Comedy Anymore! at PBH’s Free Fringe @ Sneaky Pete’s, at 12:05 on Tuesday 20th. Here’s the blurb: “The news is too horrible to joke about, so Joe’s looking for a new shtick. Support for Frankie Boyle, Stephen K Amos and Alexei Sayle. Writer for BBC1’s Have I Got News for You. As seen on BBC3’s Quickies. ‘Some of the most surprising and thought-provoking material coming from any comedian’ (Guardian). ‘A genuine hidden treasure of the Fringe’ **** (Chortle.co.uk). ‘Recommended’ (Heat).”
We started catching Joe Wells at Edinburgh a few years ago as a word of mouth success, and, boy, was that word of mouth correct. If you like your comedy intelligent, incisive, and on the nose, he’s your man. Check back around 1.15 pm to see if he’s as great this year as in previous years (no pressure, Joe). By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
Another cleverly crafted show where Joe regrets that political comedy is virtually redundant in this Trump/Johnson age, so searches deeper into his family and childhood to mine more great comic insights. Intelligent and incisive as always, and I loved the metaphor for not having labels in life. It’s not spoiling anything if I say Mrs Chrisparkle chose the can… Highly recommended!
Another Friday night, another sold-out Screaming Blue Murder comedy club night. Last time, our genial host Dan Evans never made it to Northampton as his old jalopy gave up the ghost at Milton Keynes, and Meryl O’Rourke bravely stepped up to the mark. But lightning never strikes twice, etc, so surely he’d be there on time this week….surely…. But a 45-minute delay on the trains meant we were denied the pleasure of Dan’s company until the first interval. I dunno…. beginning to get a complex here.
Instead it fell to opening act and all-round political comedian par excellence, Joe Wells, to act as his own MC warm up before delivering his own 20-minute slot. With Mr Wells, you’re in a very safe pair of hands. We’ve seen him twice in Edinburgh, where you have to queue early to be sure of getting in, such is his word-of-mouth success. Us Northampton comedy crowds aren’t known for our fondness for political comedy, so I did wonder a little how well he would go down. I needn’t have worried. His brilliant political observations, as well as the other gems in his act were as well received as I have ever seen any Northampton audience respond to political comedy. What I love about his material, and his delivery, is the way he swipes the comedic rug from under your feet and sends you hurtling in directions you never foresaw. And hats off to Mr Wells for being complimentary about Northampton. Quite right too.
After the first interval Dan finally emerged out of the murkiness that is London Northwestern Railway to give us a slightly belated warm up. He had his hands full with front-row Angie, ebullient and no inhibitions, and they were a pretty good match for each other. There was also Architect Nick with his plans for a million-pound rugby club in Towcester. We weren’t impressed. But we were all aghast at Dan’s tale of the delay at Wolverton station being punctuated by the sight and sound of a guy opposite him in the train clipping his nails; not discreetly into a free newspaper but proudly on to the floor. We all retched.
Next up was someone we’ve also seen before a few times, Susan Murray – something of a Screaming Blue regular, this was the sixth time we’ve seen her here! She delivers a lot of great material based on accents – as she herself confesses, her Brummie voice isn’t an accent that goes skiing – and there’s a lot of mileage to be gained from her relationship with her strongly Glaswegian parents. She delivered a suitably savage put down to front-row Angie which hit home perfectly. Always very funny and quirky.
Our headline act was someone completely new to us – although he’s been on the circuit for yonks – Stefano Paolini. He truly does have a gift for accents and vocal gymnastics, and we loved his “foreign languages in British regional accents” section, as well as his reminiscences of his interview with the school careers adviser, which were every bit as useless as mine was all those years ago. And he beatboxes – but not just in a show-off way like every other beatboxer, but integrating it into comedy routines which works a treat. He brought the house down and I’d definitely look out for him in the future.
Next Screaming Blue in two weeks’ time. Two questions – will you be there? And will Dan?
After a late night, it’s a late start on Monday morning, I mean afternoon, with the latest show by Joe Wells, Joe Wells: I Hope I Die Before I Start Voting Conservative, at Sneaky Pete’s, at 12:05 on Monday 21st. Here’s his blurb: “Received opinion says that we become more right-wing as we get older. Joe Wells (support for Frankie Boyle and Alexei Sayle) is determined to grow up without selling out. Joe’s third solo stand-up hour after the critically acclaimed Night of The Living Tories and 10 Things I Hate About UKIP. ‘Some of the most surprising and thought-provoking material coming from any comedian’ (Guardian). ‘Recommended’ (Heat). **** (BroadwayBaby.com). **** (Chortle.co.uk). Writer for Have I Got News For You (BBC One) and The Revolution Will Be Televised (BBC Three).”
We saw his 10 Things I Hate About UKIP last year which was a word-of-mouth hit and I wasn’t surprised. Mr Wells has a brilliant turn of phrase for political comedy and he often turns it back on his audience too, so left-wingers needn’t sit there all complacent either. If this is anything like last year it should be a brilliant show. Check back around 1.20pm to see how much we laughed. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
Once again Joe Wells has constructed a brilliant piece of comedy that turns all preconceptions on their various heads. Some fantastic notions and observations that make the hour fly by. It’s like watching a master craftsman. Simply superb.
Sadly the production of Irons I had been hoping to see was cancelled the day before which left us with a gap to fill in our programme. Mrs Chrisparkle had noticed that 10 Things I Hate About UKIP was getting great word-of-mouth reviews and everyone said you had to get there early to be sure of a seat. So we arrived at T-Bar a good 45 minutes before it was due to start; but twenty minutes later the queue had already got longer than the venue could accommodate, and Joe Wells was regretfully turning people away. Why was it so successful? Let’s read the blurb: “Joe Wells believes that you should treat all people with love and respect, but does that include UKIP voters? Follow up to the critically acclaimed **** (Chortle.co.uk), **** (BroadwayBaby.com) debut show, Night of The Living Tories, Wells presents an hour of stand-up about trying to love people whose politics you hate. ‘Some of the most surprising and thought-provoking material coming from any comedian’ (Guardian). ‘A hidden gem of the Fringe’ (Chortle.co.uk). ‘Recommended’ (Heat Magazine). Seen supporting Alexei Sayle and Frankie Boyle, heard on BBC Radio 4 Extra. Warning: contains graphic descriptions of Nigel Farage.”
No wonder this is a word-of-mouth success. I’m always appreciative of intelligent, well thought out political comedy, and there’s loads of that to appreciate! Cunningly structured, Joe starts with the self-satisfied smugness of “I’m left wing so I’m a nice person” and self-deprecatingly gives us example after example of why he’s actually not. Really clever and funny stuff – top quality political stand-up!