It’s been a while since we last witnessed Rich Fulcher live on stage in the UK; even longer since we saw him hosting a chaotic selection of his comedy mates in a show. Fulchfest, the legendary Kentish Town comedy night that Rich fronted a few years ago is but a distant (and sadly missed) memory. Then out of the darkness, for one night only, comes Rich Fulcher & His F*cked Up Friends at Soho Theatre. Luckily, two of our Velveteers were there on Friday night to report back:
There’s something utterly heart-warming about Rich Fulcher. He may be dressed as a wonky Christmas elf and he may be offering oral pleasure to Tom Meeten, but the mischievous smile and the sparkle in his eyes can make even the most cynical comedy watcher feel the cheer.
Noel Fielding once described him as “a natural buddhist”, saying of his friend, “His vibes are incredible. If you could take Rich everywhere with you, you’d never be sad.” In fact, if Rich’s mind wasn’t so damned dark and weird he’d make a fantastic kids’ entertainer.
Some of the set pieces were eye-wateringly funny: an opener about trying to behave like a parent, only to take it too far the other way (we’ll leave that to your imagination!); and a volley of abuse aimed at Oly Ralfe (who spent the entire show poised at the piano, ready to provide musical accompaniment at a moment’s notice), were particularly noteworthy.
Others fell a little short of their target, but the performance was so pacey you barely had time to notice. The entire night galloped along just on the right side of the professional/shambolic divide, like all good Fulcher shows do.
What Rich does so well is taking a joke to his limits – then pushing it way, way beyond that. In the hands of someone less likeable and more self-conscious it wouldn’t work so well; but Rich approaches each moment with such energy and conviction, it’s easy to get carried along.
The line-up for the night was fresh, sparky and marvelously odd. Highlights included: a whirlwind performance from Meeten in the guise of ‘Animal Man’ (like all his best characters, a man precariously balanced at the edge of madness – and surprisingly poignant with it) – and Meeten’s Karate Johnson also made an alarming appearance; Pajama Men’s Shenoah Allen, with a charmingly original multi-voiced sketch about animals; and Gary Le Strange in a startling Pineapple-Studio-Steam-Punk combo, complete with kiddy umbrella. Although the front row of Boosh fans looked a tad confused, he had the table next to us falling about.
Another comedy revelation was Ralfe, who sat to the side of the stage playing the (musically-gifted) straight man to everyone else’s chaos. His withering stares at Rich were pitch perfect, and his ability to find a melodies in the melee astonishing.
Due to the quantity of acts on offer, Dan Clark and magic man, Pete Heat, didn’t have the opportunity to get fully into their sets, which is a shame because they’re bloody funny/clever when they’re in the groove.
By way of a finale, Cardinal Burns’ set, performed entirely in French, provided the perfect full-stop to the show: in equal measures bizarre, silly, clever, confusing and funny.
We’ve missed you and your F*cked Up Friends, Fulcher. Come back again soon.