Comedy review: Live At The Town Hall With Adam Buxton @ Birmingham Town Hall – 8/5/16

Tom Clabon checks out the inaugural mixed-bill comedy show from the Invisible Dot Ltd.

It’s a sweltering Sunday night at the Town Hall, where a sea of freshly-sunburnt faces sit, wiping their foreheads. The sweat levels will only increase throughout the night, as the show is stuffed to the gills with quality comedians at the top of their game.

Kiri Pritchard-McLean does her duties as compère with confidence and wit, her interactions with the audience commonly cheeky but never aggressive. As well as pulling out prepared material, Kiri demonstrates stellar improvisation skills – in one instance she manages to turn a single hiccup from an audience member into a five-minute segue into the next comedian.

The first non-compère comedian is Liam Williams, who gradually shifts from pleasant quips about schoolboy nicknames to social justice and Corbynite politics. It’s a brave act, peppered with moments of detailed eloquence it’s easy to miss. He manages to keep just the right balance of introspective darkness and political optimism, nicely setting the crowd up for the next act.

Not that there’s anything which can truly prepare anyone for seeing Sam Simmons live for the first time. Simmons is so surreal and proudly strange that to describe him as just silly seems silly in itself. In only 30 minutes he manages to push comic absurdity as far as it could conceivably go. A recent winner of the Foster’s Comedy Award, his style makes use of novelty props and sound effects in fresh and unique ways which bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “you had to be there”. It won’t make sense if we try to describe his jokes here – not that they made sense at the time – so our advice is to see Sam Simmons for yourself as soon as possible.

Famed for his double act Adam and Joe and from appearances on Never Mind The Buzzcocks and 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown, Adam Buxton finally takes to the stage, plugging in his laptop. The beginning of his set is led astray by some technical issues which he handles like a pro, taking it in his stride and passing it off as part of the show. His set tonight is a combination of laptop-based things Buxton has done over the past few years, with some more recent additions and outtakes from 8 Out Of 10 thrown in.

Even when riffing on subjects like middle-class puddings or Coke advertising campaigns, Buxton never feels like he’s being mundane, and has a healthy dose of surrealism to make ordinary topics engaging. The set ends with a sung tribute to David Bowie featuring lollipops and an edited clip of The Beach Boys which hilariously ruins The Beach Boys forever. The audience leaves the Town Hall still wiping their faces of sweat, but also the odd laughter-induced tear.



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