Kai Humphries : Punch-Drunk

By Ron Bingham
Kai Humphries

This is a beautifully heart-warming and uplifting homage from Kai to his family and friends, and the influences they have had on his life. He introduces us, via a projector / display screen, to both his grandfathers and his big brother, telling both good and bad tales about them.

Kai tells us about his experience setting up a comedy club in his town of Blyth (just next to Newcastle) and what can possibly happen when you use the first image on google for your club’s logo.  The biggest part of the show, and the one that will probably have most audience members shedding a little tear, is a perfect demonstration of what can happen when a community comes together to help a sick child.

Kai is an excellent storyteller who is not afraid to reveal embarrassing secrets about his past. There are some very funny video moments during the show (I especially loved the one at the very end of the show). The show is selling out, deservedly so, and is a must-see for anyone who would love to see an hour of personal and positive comic tales. Do yourself a favour and see this wonderful show.

Punch-Drunk is on at Gilded Balloon Teviot until August 28


Best of British

By James Shackell Best of British pic

I’ve always believed that British humour isn’t like regular humour. It’s subtler, more ironic and soaked with a self-aware melancholy that you only get when your country has lost its imperial stranglehold and now hangs its jaunty cap on statistics like diabetes per capita and casual violence. And yeah, the accent helps too. If you took two equally talented comedians, both with perfect timing and well-honed craft, the one who pronounces ‘scone’ as ‘scowne’ will always be inherently funnier. That’s just science.

So I was pretty excited about Best of British, the Festival’s UK-themed ‘lucky dip’, where you pay $20, reach your hand in, and pull out either a delicious pork pie or (if you’re unlucky) a metaphorical black pudding. Either way, you’re in for a good Tuesday night, and this year’s line-up is definitely one of the strongest I’ve seen. Four acts, and there wasn’t a dud among them.

Kai Humphries
A young comedian with a Newcastle brogue so thick you might struggle to catch the faster material. Luckily I came prepared with three seasons of Geordie Shore under my belt. Humphries has a gangly, ginger energy on stage, riffing on pretty standard stuff like the big spoon/little spoon debate, dating a girl much hotter than him and a few well-timed observations about Australians and jaywalking against the lights (“There’s nae cars for miles and miles, and you’re all like, ‘Hold!’ Hold!’ Not yet!”) It’s not material that’s going to set the world on fire, but it warmed the crowd up a treat, which is all you can ask from your first act. Three stars.

Markus Birdman
Damn I love discovering comedians like Markus Birdman, a slick, weasel-faced Pom who seemed to be three beers south of sober by the beginning of the set. The audience was on-board after the first Holocaust gag, which drew a few risqué ‘Ooohs’ from the crowd: “Oh, sorry, have I misjudged those Nazis? Too soon is it?” Bergman shot back with an eyebrow raised. His style is belligerent drunk meets middle-aged shaman, and there’s some smart material in here on fatherhood, growing old and the dangers of teaching our kids to believe in dreams. I saw enough to Google his solo show, Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea. Five Stars.

Rory Lowe
Rory Lowe looks like he’s going to be a nob (objective journalism is overrated). He’s a dreadlocked, UK-born, Aussie-raised twenty-something with the vacant stare of the serial puff addict. A Rastafarian Bradley Cooper. But damn is he funny. I’m happy to say he won me over big time, despite my usual hesitation over comedians who get 60% of their laughs from delivery alone (i.e. shouting stuff). There’s some clever word play around wine and erectile dysfunction and plenty of observations on the cross-cultural differences between the UK the Oz. He’s got a schtick, and he works it well. A solid four stars.

Andrew Stanley
Jesus, if the idea of audience participation freaks you out, do not sit within three rows of Andrew Stanley. It’s not a criticism to say he has no material: he pulled 15 minutes of comedy out of the air, bouncing around the front row of the crowd and ripping into them like an Irish pit-bull. I would not heckle this guy if you paid me $5000. He’s too quick, too cutting. Stanley is a familiar face back home, running The Comedy Cellar in Ireland and hosting the RTE 2 show I Dare Ya. His stand-up is 100% sweaty, manic energy, but he’s clearly a total pro. Not many comedians would have the guts to base a set on nothing but swagger and wits. If that’s your thing, down a quick pint, strap yourself in and go nuts. You’ll have a wonderful time. Four stars.

Best of British is on at The Exford Hotel until April 23


Comedians’ Cinema Club

By Ron Bingham
comedians cinema club
It’s here at the festival again. The maddest silliest most anarchic group of randon comedians acting out a cinematic blockbuster that they, and possibly you, haven’t seen. Last year I saw Aliens and Back To The Future II. This time I was lucky enough to see a film that I had not seen on the big screen (nor, apparently, had the cast or most of the audience – it appears to have been popular only with people without a sense of humour?), AVATAR.

The board out the front of the venue told us that the cast for today consisted of Yianni Agisiliaou, Kai Humphries, Milo McCabe, Steve Bugeja, Stephen Bailey, Elf Lyons and Will Seaward. I know Elf hadn’t turned up (having seen her an hour earlier) and someone else was a no-show as there were only five “stars”. I’d try and give the plot of the film but, if you’ve seen it, you know it better than I do and, if you haven’t, you wouldn’t believe me…. although they kept referring to Fern Gully and there was something about plugging hair into trees and jumping onto flying lizards and floating rocks. the cast dragged a couple of young lads out of the front row (yes the audience WILL be part of the action, so get your acting boots on or hide down the back) to play their avatars. We had to be trees and make jungle noises and stuff, there was a lot of running round the little room and much hilarity was had by all.

If you get a chance to see it, or you would like to see one of your favourite films butchered beyond belief by a bunch of (slightly tipsy) comedians, then this is the choice you have for the rest of the festival:

21st Lord of the Rings trilogy
22nd Hunchback of Notre Dame
23rd Cool Runnings
24th Silence of the Lambs
25th From Dusk ’til Dawn
26th Free Willy
27th Interview with a Vampire
29th Saving Private Ryan
30th The Wizard of Oz.