Live Review: Joseph Morpurgo – Work In Progress

joseph morpurgo work in progress index
The Bill Murray, Angel, London, 10/12/2019.

Joseph Morpurgo’s the best comedian you’ve never heard of, unless you are aware of his work, in that case he’s the best comedian you have heard of. It’s a statement I don’t say lightly either, but his 2015 show Soothing Sounds For Baby blew me away, it’s inventive madness making me laugh harder than I ever have in my life before, afterwards my comedy going compatriot / comrade Dr Taylor stated that it was the best thing she’d ever seen and for once she wasn’t lying too.

The concept for this latest show is that while trying to come up with a new show he kept on struggling to finish an idea, which led him to investigate other great unfinished works, like Mozart’s Requiem, and after discovering just how many there were rather than complete his own show he decided to instead finish the work of others. Then what followed over the rest of the hour is quite frankly stunning, the way Morpurgo’s brain works fascinates me as he offers up such an incredible variety of different ideas and types of humour, all of which fit together and work perfectly.

Edit: Spoiler filled parts of this review have been removed by request, but will be reinstated if the show is ever finished and then staged.

At the end Morpurgo stressed the work in progress element to the show (which was barely apparent – one part was slightly rough and ready I suppose, but the others felt complete and shockingly funny) and suggested that though it might be the bones of a new show, it’s possible that he might not actually finish it. If he didn’t it would be an absolute tragedy, far worse than the stories, films, tv series and games that were never completed that he plays around with here, and given how much work has clearly been put in to it so far I hope that doesn’t happen.

Walking back to the underground station with the aforementioned Dr Taylor, we discussed how it was undoubtedly a five star show, which raised the issue that what if the finished product is better? Will I give it six stars then, making a mockery out of the whole star system? And in the end we decided that the only answer is “Yes, yes I will”, as Morpurgo is the one comedian who deserves such a plaudit, and a Work In Progress from him is still ridiculously better than 99.9% of comedy shows which have been honed for months if not years on end.


Alex Finch.
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