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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Rich Hall - 14 February 2006

Rich Hall played Colchester Arts Centre on Thursday to a packed (300) crowd. This is the third time we've seen him, although the first time in Colchester and the first full show as Rich Hall rather than in the guise of ex-convict and country singer, Otis Lee Crenshaw.

Colchester Arts Centre

Given that Colchester is both a garrison town and a student town, there's barely anyone in the audience below the age of 30 -- a mention of squaddies saw one guy punch the air; the audience is mostly made up of people who will have seen him on QI or heard him guesting on radio shows. It's not a raucous crowd and Hall seemed to lose faith in it towards the end, complaining that the energy had gone from the room. But since most of the show is built around Hall's grouching it's difficult to know if he meant it or whether it was part of the act. The Colchester crowd isn't the kind that shouts out or gets involved; it may be a liberal town but most of the people are very conservative, shuffling with embarrassment if they get picked out of the audience. But it's a crowd of genuine comedy-lovers, not a bunch of folks who accidentally wandered in from the Quaker meeting hall next door.

Most of the material went down a storm; Hall promises at times to steer clear of politics but most of his cynicism and pent up anger is still reserved for George Bush and his War on Terror (and occasionally the French). Dishevelled, prowling the small stage and growling at the audience, he attacks the concept of the war on terror -- "a heightened emotion." How can you have a war on a heightened emotion?

He also pinpoints a problem with reviewing comedy; in his act he talks about Osama Bin Laden and how he has become the face of anti-American terrorism in the same way that Colonel Sanders has become the face of KFC. Hall subsequently points out that the audience will all be trying to tell the same jokes at work the next day and they will fall flat. Trying to pin down why I thought the gig was superb is almost as futile because it isn't just the material: it's in the deadpan delivery, in the way Hall dominates the room as soon as he walks on stage and in the way he improvises his way through the occasional stumble in the material. He personalises each gig by knowing where he is -- and standing under a shaky-looking lighting rig in a deconsecrated church was a gift to someone of Hall's talent.


(* I've finally acknowledged the 21st century and bought myself a digital camera. The danger now is that everything I do will be photographed and posted... every aspect of my sad little life laid bare. No, dammit! Must... resist... posting... photographs...

(Oh, what the hell. Just this once. Remember the tree that fell through our fence? Well, one month on it's pretty much all chopped up and gone...

(And this was the first picture I took of Mel...

(Poor Mel... she's about as keen on being photographed as I am! But on the principal that I try never to put anyone through something I wouldn't do myself...

(Oh, good grief! I should have had a shave. Note the low angle to remove the second chin!

(So, is this blog going to turn into lots of shots of squirrels frolicking around the garden in the future? Hopefully not. Unless I can't resist... must... resist...!)

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