Brighton Dome, 06/10/12
Compere: Carl Donnelly
Performers: Alan Cochrane, Paul Chowdhry, Sara Pascoe & Abandoman
Unless you are one of the lucky people who are able to see a substantial amount of the shows at the Brighton Comedy Festival, Best of the Fest is the main opportunity to get a flavor of the different varieties of comedy available during the 15-day festival.
This year the MC was Carl Donnelly, who has been a performer at Brighton’s Best of the Fest before. Donnelly is an interesting comic; his uncomfortable body language and occasionally stuttering vocals give the impression of a nervous performer, yet I can’t help but wonder if this is all part of his act. As the MC, Donnelly has the chance to spend a lot of his set talking to the audience, which gives him the opportunity to showcase his talent. He’s clever in seeking those who will be ideal for the material he has written; like the teenager who he embarrasses by telling his parents of the “danger wank”. But it isn’t the MC you come to see at Best of the Fest, it’s the acts and this year it was certainly a mixed bag.
First up was Alun Cochrane, a comedian I only knew in passing from a short performance he gave on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow over a year ago. He is noticeably nervous on the stage, which may be why he hasn’t had much screen time since. Granted his material includes some tremendously funny gags that had me roaring with laughter, the problem is I can’t remember any of them. Here lies the problem in Cochrane’s performance; he’s funny with a wide variety of jokes, but none of them last long in the memory.
Paul Chowdhry followed Cochrane. Chowdhry is a comedian I knew little of, but who has created a substantial following after performances on Channel 4’s Stand up for the Week. After his performance at Best of the Fest, I will certainly be looking out for more of Chowdhry’s material in the future. Chowdhry is an exceptional talent with a fantastic ability to create hilarious one-liners and find fresh material when discussing well-used subjects, namely racism. He is also able to point out the various infuriating idiosyncrasies of the modern age and his material on Facebook and Twitter is both relatable and amusing.
Unfortunately in comparison, the material of Sara Pascoe is neither relatable nor amusing. Worse than that is her apparent lack of enthusiasm when on the stage, which means any interest in her act goes fairly quickly. Pascoe unfortunately suffers from being unable to find material that is appealing to both genders and therefore the majority of her act doesn’t hit home. A shame, as personality wise she’s one of the most likeable female comedians I’ve seen in a long time.
Headlining this Best of the Fest was Abandoman, potentially one of the most talented comedy acts I have ever seen. The beauty of their act is that no two shows are the same as a lot of the material is made up on the spot. Abandoman is an Irish MC who raps about people and objects; it’s original, creative and astonishing to experience. The popular opening song What’s in your pocket, in which Abandoman raps about the contents of the pockets of various audience members, is incredible and hilarious in equal measure. A cracking closing act to what was certainly a mixed line-up. Nonetheless, Best of the Fest remains one of the highlights of any comedy festival, a chance to get a flavor of the comedic variety available to you.
A second Best of the Fest is being performed at the Brighton Comedy Festival on the 20th of October. More information can be found here!