Canned Laughter have been running charity comedy nights for about a year now and it’s a pretty fantastic idea. Tickets are just five pounds each but then you take five items with you which are donated to a food bank. They flit between venues each month, with it taking place in either Walthamstow or Tooting, and if you live near either (or even if you don’t) I’d recommend going as it’s not only a great cause but also a great night of comedy.
Myra DuBois was the MC for the evening and while she might not be most original comedian around, being a drag act who’s somewhat self-obsessed, she is a very funny one. Her crowd work is strong, she has a great bit about breaking the fourth wall, and she keeps proceedings going along impressively throughout the night. After about ten minutes of warming the audience up she introduced the first act of the evening, Michael Odewale, whose mostly laid back observations on life made the evening start on a high note. From commentary about his relationship with his mother, and how he’d like to be stabbed so she would feel guilty (with the line “Here’s your blood tea you monster” generating a big laugh) to how he checks the terrorism threat level so he can decide what shoes he should wear, pretty much ever joke hits home, and his material on his attempts at being a good person and being woke was top stuff too.
Danny Garnell followed, and when I saw that he was a white male in his forties wearing jeans and an Adidas jacket I didn’t have high hopes, the racist and ageist bastard that I am. But he subverted expectations with a set dripping with irony as he talked about his parenting skills, taking his kids to a betting shop, how he and his friends are tight with money (including a great gag about what happened when a friend won fifty grand on a tv game show) before finishing on a tale about his visit to Disneyland Paris and how he ended up in the resort’s jail. All of it was extremely appealing and engaging, so I feel a complete idiot for making such presumptions about him and definitely plan to see him perform again soon.
The first half came to a close with a set from Esther Manito who charms the audience from the get go with first rate jokes about a variety of different subjects, her set is the opposite of predictable. There’s some funny (if slightly depressing) discourse about a recent gig she did where 39 members of the English Defence League were in the audience and then she changes subject effortlessly to a story about her children’s nativity play and her son’s role as a camel. After this she talks about how she’s from Lebanon, her very English and polite husband Neil and how he freaks out her family, her Dad’s theory that Mary Berry is a bastard, and her final segment on how she makes sure her children are suitably punished is sublime.
After the interval Max and Ivan were the first act of the second half, and they were also the best act too. I was already a fan having seen their show on NextUp (which in my round up of 2018 I rated above Stewart Lee’s Content Provider, as it’s that good) and they didn’t disappoint tonight. After a bit of admin containing flashing lights, loud music and fire (which was as fun as it sounds), the duo launched in to their act a proper with jokes about Ivan’s obsession with a dodgy word of the day calendar, discussion of their ancestors (Ivan’s includes Aslan, allegedly), their strengths and weaknesses and a brief performance of a play of which only one page exists. Max commented that they’re cutting that bit from the set but I hope not as like everything else they did it made me laugh heartily. And laughing heartily is definitely the best kind of laughter too. They’re one of the best sketch groups I’ve seen in a long time, and have a real sense of joy in their work so expect them to hit the big time soon.
Maria Shehata’s the second to last act of the night, a laid back L.A. Comedian who moved over to the UK due to a long distance relationship which ended almost the moment she landed. She mines some impressive material out of this unfortunate event, and even makes some great jokes about online dating, a subject which too many comics base sets around these days but at least her stance is original and also very funny. There’s also some strong stuff about being broke in London and not being able to afford friends, and her take on children also generated many laughs, especially when it comes to her reaction to a guy she met who wanted eight kids.
Jamali Maddix was the final act of the night, and while I’m sure he won’t remember me in the slightest I did chat to Jamali a few times back in 2012 and 2013 when we were both on the open mic circuit together. Even back then I predicted he was going to hit the big time as his material was superb, and his performance charming and confident. Recently he’s had his own tv show, Hate Thy Neighbour, appeared on Live At The Apollo and guested on Frankie Boyle’s New World Order and 8 Out of 10 Cats and it’s pleasing to see him doing so well. Tonight’s set is a great one too, but it’s not quite as good as I’d hoped due to a slight over reliance on dick jokes. He does address this at one point too, and don’t get me wrong, a lot of them are really funny, but when he moves away from sex it’s where he really shines, be it why he’s frustrated that he’s no longer being stopped at airports or his feelings about patriotism and Brexit, all of which are comedy gold, and I hope when I see him next it’s these sort of topics he covers rather than the decent but not particularly unique sex stuff. That said the audience loved all of his set, so maybe I’m being a tad persnickety, it wouldn’t be the first time after all.
Canned Laughter’s Official Site.
Jamali Maddix’s Official Site.
Maria Shehata’s Official Site.
Max & Ivan’s Official Site.
Esther Manito’s Official Site.
Danny Garnell’s Official Site.
Michael Odewale on Twitter.
Myra DuBois’s Official Site.