First published in The Times, Tuesday October 15 2019
There is a moment early in this silver-screen tribute to Billy Connolly in which he reveals, with a certain amount of bemusement, that his most famous comedy routines are to be published in a forthcoming book. “It doesn’t make sense,” he says. “They don’t have a beginning, middle and an end. Sometimes the punch line comes at the beginning.”
First published in The Times, Monday October 7 2019
When the BBC Scotland sitcom Still Game bowed out this year its writers Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill left fans in no doubt that this was the end for Jack Jarvis, Victor McDade and the Craiglang posse. Not since the final episode of Blake’s 7, in 1981, has a television series more ruthlessly dispatched most of its starring cast.
First published in The Times, Monday September 23 2019
By any standards Russell Howard is a megastar. The atmosphere in the 13,000-seat arena at this early show in the stand-up’s year-long international tour was more akin to a rock concert than a comedy gig. Those little-known turns Cher and Björk, who will play the venue in the coming weeks, will be lucky to attract the same deafening levels of excitement.
First published in The Times, Friday February 16 2018
The comedian Mark Thomas is clearly a man who relishes a challenge. The inspiration for this show came to him while he was in the West Bank to promote Extreme Rambling, his book chronicling his experience of walking the length of the Israeli West Bank separation barrier in 2010. Could he, he wondered, set up and run a comedy club in Gaza for one night only?
While Hamas-controlled Gaza proved too much of a stretch even for Thomas, the veteran political comedian and his team eventually settled on running a series of workshops in the West Bank city of Jenin with actors from the Jenin Freedom Theatre, culminating in a comedy showcase for the students.