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Comedy In The Buff (Not Quite)

7 Oct

© Effra Social

Every so often a new comedy night springs into being which we know is going to be awesome. And here’s one that promises great things!

Comedians In Swimsuits is a weekly comedy club that takes place every Thursday at Effra Social (89 Effra Road London SW2). The list of regulars that will be appearing at the club reads like a who’s who of TVO: Tom Meeten, Alice Lowe, Katy Wix, Rufus Jones, Lucy Montgomery…the list goes on!

Katy Wix will be on the bill at this week’s inaugural night, along with Lou Sanders, Lee Kern, David McNeill and Sophie Black. It all kicks off at 7.30pm this Thursday and it’s FREE – so don’t be late, or you might not get in. Exciting stuff!

For more information and to keep tabs on future evenings, follow the event Facebook page. Please be aware that comedians may not actually be in their swimsuits…

Richards Grin Bin

4 Oct

Richard Sandling is hosting The Grin Bin, an evening of comedy in aid of England Roller Derby, at Bethnal Green’s famous Backyard Comedy Club on Sunday October 12th.

All proceeds are going towards helping fund the team ahead of their final fixture of 2014 – the Roller Derby World Cup which will take place in Dallas this December.

Joining Richard are a variety of top comedians including Buzzcocks regular Phil Jupitus, Pappys, Gemma Whelan, Sofie Hagen and Will Hodgson, with more to be announced.

The show is suitable for over 18’s and you can get tickets and more information here.

If you live further north, don’t worry, The Grin Bin is travelling to Manchester on Sunday 23rd November at the Kings Arms in Salford.

Final Characthorse Performance

25 Sep

© Festmag

Colin Hoult will be performing what he says will be the last ever performance of his critically-acclaimed semi-autobiographical show Characthorse.

The one-man show tells the story Colin started writing when he was 7 years old – about Snottingham, a mythical place near Nottingham. The origin of the title Characthorse is revealed and the show contains dancing, Star Wars, Transformers, Sir Patrick Stewart, Evil Bill, UHT milk, masks, ostriches and ducks – in fact, something for everyone!

It all takes place at the Cambridge Junction on 1st October from 8pm. Tickets are spookily priced at £13 and can be procured here.

To read our interview with Colin from last year, in which he talks about the show, take a look at this.

See Bea And More At The London Irish Comedy Festival

18 Sep

© London Irish Comedy Festival

Get your scrunchies and your bum bags ready! The London Irish Comedy Festival has teamed up with Aisling Bea to bring you a night of craic with musical comedy legends David O’ Doherty and Abandoman, with 90’s tunes from DJ Chewy Chewerson.

The event, The Big Dishgo! is a fundraiser for its partner charity the London Irish Centre, and has been arranged to coincide with the Centre’s 60th Anniversary Celebrations. All proceeds will go to support the Centres’ welfare work with vulnerable young Irish people in London.

It all takes place from 7.30pm on Saturday 11 October at the London Irish Centre (50-52 Camden Square, London NW1 9X), and tickets are £20 for the night  or £12.50 for the Dishgo Only. Tickets are available here.

Speaking about the The Big Dishgo! Aisling Bea has said “I’m so passionate about the work that the London Irish Centre does, particularly with the new generation who’ve fortunately or unfortunately emigrated and need more help than others – drug rehabilitation, counselling, somewhere to feel supported. I’m also passionate about the creation of a strong London Irish community based around fun, and a positive image in comparison to how things were for someone my age arriving thirty years ago. But, I’m mainly passionate about cheesy music and as a lapsed Catholic, I still enjoy the guilt associated with a terrible, excellent disco that ends with chips, a fight and hopefully a little passion”.

Based on Bea’s stonkingly good set at Old Rope on Monday night, it’s well worth nabbing a ticket to see her in action!

Teensy Tweets Are Back

14 Sep

Teensy Tweets, the animated web series by Hayden Black, is back!

The topical show takes some of Hayden’s tweets about the latest news and gets animated birds to say them.

After the pilot episodes a couple of years ago, they are back weekly to give us an unusual view of the latest happenings.

Catch up with the birds on YouTube and watch the latest episode here.

 

Pub Chat With Horgan & Bea

4 Sep

© The Sun/Hoxton Radio

A couple of weeks ago a hole in the fabric of TVO time was nearly created when one of the artists who we we cover interviewed another of the artists that we write about. Crikey.

The people in question were Sharon Horgan, who was being interviewed by Ailsing Bea – in a pub of all places, as part of the BBC Radio 4 Extra Comedy Club interviews series.

There are two 5-minute interviews; in the first one Sharon talks about the Bailey’s-based cocktail that she’s invented and how she got into comedy, and in the second interview the duo chat about Horgan’s forthcoming new TV shows: a second series of Psychobitches (out soon!), and a new Ch4 comedy called Catastrophe, which will be out in 2015.

You can listen to interview 1 here and interview 2 there.  So raise a glass of your favourite tipple and enjoy!

Crackanory 2 – Starting Soon

3 Sep

As we mentioned last month, the second series of Crackanory, the popular storytelling series on Dave, features a story read by the late, great Rik Mayall. The iconic comedian reads The Weatherman by TVO regular Tony Way.

It has now been confirmed that this will be the first story of the new series, alongside a story read by Vic Reeves called In Space No One Can Hear You Clean.

As in the first series, each half-hour episode contains 2 stories, narrated by guests and illustrated with either live action or animated sequences.

Katherine Parkinson will also read a story, and series 1 veteran Kevin Eldon, has written his second story for the series and will also make an appearance in Man’s Best Friend written by Alex Kirk.

Other stories will be read by  David Mitchell, Simon Callow, Emilia Fox, Meera Syall, Warwick Davies, Ben Miller, Sue Perkins, Johnny Vegas, and Ruby Wax; all providing their vocal talents to dark and intriguing stories written by comedian Holly Walsh, Ali Crockett and David Scott, Nico Tatarowicz, Melissa Bubnic and Katherine Jakeaways, and Yonderland scriptwriter Toby Davies .

The new series starts on Dave at 10pm on 24th September and you can see the new trailer below. If you missed the first series of funny, twisted tales then they are all available on demand from Dave.

 

Sandling Does His Fitness Thing

1 Sep

Scandinavian advertising is famous for not taking itself too seriously, and this new TV commercial from Norway, starring Richard Sandling, is no exception.

The ad is for a local gym chain and features Sandling’s unique take on using the running machine – basically doing exactly what the end line suggests when it says, “Do your thing”. Damn weird and pretty funny – sadly, we can’t imagine the likes of Fitness First adopting the same approach in the UK:

In Between The Inbetweeners

10 Aug

© Bwark Productions

It’s hard to miss the current PR onslaught for the new Inbetweeners movie. But did you know that there are a few TVO connection with the film and its cast? Please allow us to enlighten you…

First up is a connection which we’d probably categorize as ‘Type A': the Second Unit director of the Inbetweeners 2 movie, Spencer Millman, was also the producer of The Mighty Boosh.

(We assume that Spencer’s experience of  keeping the Boosh gang under control may have come in useful on this latest project too!)

Next is a TVO connection with Channel 4 show Friday Night Dinner, which stars actor Simon Bird (Will from The Inbetweeners). We spotted that Laurie Rose is the Director of Photography on the latest series. Rose is director Ben Wheatley‘s ‘go to’ DOP for most of his productions, many of which feature a bevy of TVO folk.  What’s more, series 3 of Friday Night Dinner also included two further TVO faces, in the shape of Paul Kaye and Dan Skinner. If you missed them, you can still watch all of the series 3 episodes on 4oD.

And finally, a connection from a year ago, in the shape of a short film called Straw Donkey. We covered it at the time, but for those of you with a short memory, the film features TVO people  Tony WayLaura Patch and Barunka O’Shaughnessy, alongside Inbetweeners star Joe Thomas (Simon from the show). It also includes a cameo from Justin Edwards too, just for good measure. If you missed it, take a look below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W5ewBP1SOI

TVO Radio Stars

6 Aug
© google

© google

Tune in your radio to hear some TVO stars do their thing.

The second series of The Brig Society starring Marcus Brigstocke returned to BBC Radio 4 on Friday evening at 6.30pm – repeated Saturday at 12.30 and on iPlayer. Each week Marcus is put in charge of a ‘thing’ – this week he becomes an MEP. The show also stars Rufus Jones, William Andrews and Margaret Cabourn-Smith, and  is written by Brigstocke and among others, Dan Tetsell.

Also on BBC Radio 4, The Infinite Monkey Cage, starring Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince have recorded two shows at The Edinburgh Festival. In the second one they are joined by Josie Long and Paul Foot, psychologist Richard Wiseman and neuroscientist Stuart Ritchie to ask ‘is irrationality genetic?’. This show will be broadcast on Monday 11th August at 4.30pm and will also be on iPlayer.

As we mentioned earlier, My First Planet written by and starring Phil Whelans, started its second series on BBC Radio 4 Extra on Mondays at 9.30am and on iPlayer.

We can also look forward to a new series of Colin Hoult’s Carnival of Monsters coming soon. If you can’t wait to listen to it, you can get tickets to the recordings via this link.

Aisling Bea At The Phoenix Fringe

4 Aug

© Phoenix Fringe

Aisling Bea will be performing on the bill at The Pheonix Fringe on Thursday night.

The Phoenix Fringe is a festival/showcase that takes place during August in the intimate basement of The Phoenix Cavendish Square, London.

Bea will be taking to the stage at 10pm this Thursday, 7th August, and you can purchase tickets for her show for £8 (+80p booking fee) at Seetickets.

To take a look at the full line up for the event, visit the Phoenix Fringe website or follow them on twitter.

 

See Sandling Podcast Live!

4 Aug

© Richard Sandling

Richard Sandling will be hosting one of his Secret Movie podcast shows next week, on 13th August, in East London.

He will be appearing on the bill with writer and comedian Steve Hall (who’s 1/3 of We Are Klang, a Russell Howard support act & a writer and regular on the Frank Skinner Show) and the multi-talented Nadia Kamil (who The Guardian has described as“The most exciting new comedians around, full stop” ).

The gig will be taking place at the Betsey Trotwood on Farringdon Road on Wednesday. Doors open at 7.30pm for a 8pm start and tickets cost just £5 (+ 50p booking fee). If you like your comedy with a good sprinkling of movie-based seasoning, grab one here.

For more information about the show visit the event’s Facebook page.

Luxury Gallery, Ooh-Yeah!

1 Aug

Suck my beans! Luxury Comedy officially launched last night, and with Episode Two now on 4oD, there’s still lots we have to share with you as the series progresses.

© Dave Brown / Channel 4

© Dave Brown / Channel 4

For starters, there’s our making of featurette: a rough-n-ready rumble-tumble through the madness of filming Luxury Comedy.  TVO hung around for four very different days on set and highlights from the organised chaos will be seen very soon.

There’s also a competition coming later today, and a few more surprises to come – including our own behind the scenes photo galleries.  But it’s only right and proper that we begin such proceedings with the official photography, lovingly crafted by the incredible Dave Brown and the genius that is Nigel Coan. Enjoy, and keep coming back for more!

Obviously, we’re aware that, given TVO is read in 161 different countries at last count, that a large number of you have no access to Channel 4.  In that case, we heartily recommend you order Series 1 and Series 2 on dvd from The Velvet Onion Amazon Store now!

The Fringe Is Upon Us!

31 Jul

This Friday sees the launch of the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and as always, a number of TVO regulars are joining the thousands of shows on offer throughout August.

With new shows from the likes of Dan ClarkRachel Stubbings, Kim NoblePaul FootJoey PageSarah Kendall and Tony Law on offer, plus plays featuring Stubbings and Justin Edwards, it’s a pretty packed schedule for Onion fans, and there’s a whole host of other great shows to look out for too.

As such, we felt it was a good time to summarise some of this year’s juiciest offerings, for those of you unsure of what to see from a stuffed to the gills festival.

The TVO Regulars

© Feature Spot Productions

© Feature Spot Productions

DAN CLARK: Me, My Selfie and I

The star of How Not To Live Your Life reinvented himself last year as a fully fledged comedy rock star, with a critically acclaimed album under his belt containing such classics as Pippa and Tranny With Amnesia.  Now he’s back to what he does best: upbeat, slightly filthy but downright heart-warming stand-up. His new show focuses on “love, death and crushing loneliness”, but in typical Dan style, you’ll leave feeling good about life.

Pleasance Dome – 8:20pm, Aug 1-12, 14-24

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

© Avalon Promotions Ltd.

© Avalon Promotions Ltd.

I KILLED RASPUTIN

Written by comedy legend Richard Herring, this new play focuses on Felix Yusupov, conspirator in the murder of Rasputin, being interviewed by American journalist EM Halliday over fifty years later in 1967.  The former richest man in Russia is now reduced to making money from his tall tale, and Halliday is determined to finally reveal the truth.  The Thick of It star (and Ealing Live veteran) Justin Edwards stars alongside Nichola McAuliffe.

Assembly George Square Theatre – 3:35pm, Aug 1-24

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

© IMWP

© IMWP

PAUL FOOT: Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon # Major

It’s often hard to quantify the components of a Paul Foot show, so we’ll let the magic mind of Mr Foot do the work for us here:

“Glistening in the wake of last night’s pearl saga, premium line – caught Sally’s clam fist choir socks it to the salt babes big time baybayyyy. Cutlery cage enquiries? First come, first preserved.”  Well, quite.

Underbelly, Cowgate – 7:30pm, Aug 1-10, 12-24

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

© Mick Perrin Worldwide / PBJ Management

© Mick Perrin Worldwide / PBJ Management

SARAH KENDALL: Touchdown

She came. She saw. She conquered the Newcastle and District Under-14s Touch Rugby Competition.  The former Beehive regular and stand-up veteran is back with a look back to 1992, when she was forced to play Women’s Touch Rugby and accidentally made minor history.

Another unmissable hour with one of Australia’s finest exports.

Pleasant Courtyard – 9:30pm, Aug 1-10, 12-25

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

© Tony Law / Show and Tell

© Tony Law / Show and Tell

TONY LAW: Enter the Tonezone

Ah, Tony. The Tonester. The Tonezone. Ealing Live veteran turned surrealist stand-up comedy demigod, the truth about the ToneZone is you either enter it willingly or you stand at the entrance, looking confused and miming indicators that you’ve lost your wallet and will have to give it a miss.  His latest show offers life affirming, changing comedy, and a promise of ‘Testicle Ankle’. Don’t ask, just savour it.

The Stand Comedy Club III & IV – 12:10pm, Aug 1-10, 12-24

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

© Soho Theatre

© Soho Theatre

KIM NOBLE You’re Not Alone

Kim Noble is a comedic law unto himself, and never one to rest on his laurels, he’s propelled his work into multi-media performance and film in recent years.  You’re Not Alone continues down this path, taking audiences on a journey throw tower blocks, supermarkets and Facebook as the star of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and Luxury Comedy chronicles his attempts at connection, friendship and employment at B&Q.

Traverse Theatre – 11:15pm, Aug 19-24

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

© PBJ Management

© PBJ Management

JOEY PAGE: This is Not a Circus

Self-proclaimed as “everybody’s 18th favourite absurd comedian”, Joey Page has been grafting a solid reputation for himself since his early appearances as a protégé of a certain luxurious comedian.  Appearances on Never Mind the Buzzcocks and a few seconds as a burnt sausage here have only served to increase the fanbase built up by steady gigging nationwide, and his latest technicoloured extravaganza is as silly and irreverent as ever.

Underbelly, Bristo Square – 10:45pm, Aug 1-11, 13-25

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

© Live Nation / Mike Leigh Associates

© Live Nation / Mike Leigh Associates

RACHEL STUBBINGS: Doing It for Himself

First coming to our attention via her work with Alice Lowe on Jackal Films, Rachel Stubbings became a cult icon for her Stubbing Out Problems web shorts and Edinburgh show, before branching out as an actress and film-maker in her own right. This year she returns to Edinburgh with a show about her trial by error existence, as she tries to become a cool independent woman, all by himself.

Underbelly, Bristo Square – 3:00pm, Aug 1-11, 13-25

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

© Pure Theatre LLP

© Pure Theatre LLP

THE 3RD SECTOR

As well as her own standup show and the first five performance of Knightmare LiveRachel Stubbings will also be appearing in satirical play The 3rd Sector during the festival, which is inspired by real-life experiences and brought to life by Pure Theatre Productions.  It tells the story of Marlin and Josh who discover their role in a corrupt corporate charity, and examines the ethics of giving when we donate first and ask questions later.

Pleasance Courtyard – 12:15pm, Aug 1-10, 12-25

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

Other Recommendations

TVO is designed to focus on a family of frequent collaborators, but that’s not to say we don’t enjoy a number of other comedy acts on the circuit.  The Edinburgh festival gives us a rare chance to shout out about some names we don’t normally get to feature, including several who often share the bill with ‘our lot’.  If you’re still looking for shows to see beyond the main bunch above, you could do a lot worse than following some of our suggestions below.

© The Pleasance / PBJ Management

© The Pleasance / PBJ Management

CARDINAL BURNS

Following on from their smash hit second series for Channel 4, which featured TVO veteran Rufus Jones, no less, the cult favourites return to Edinburgh for a limited eight night run towards the end of the festival.

Expect a smattering of old favourites and potentially some new material ahead of a third telly run.

Pleasance Courtyard – 22:00pm, Aug 15-17, 19-23

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

 

© Anil Desai

© Anil Desai

ANIL DESAI’S Last Night at the Movies / Not Indian Enough

The globe-trotting impressionist returns to the Free Fringe circuit this year, with over 50 movie star impressions mixed into stand-up stories of comedy, action, adventure and romance in Last Night at the Movies, plus a second show, Not Indian Enough featuring all new stand-up material from the gifted mimic, comic talent and all round charming gent.

Formerly of sketch troupe The Giant Pineapple Boys, and presenter of James Wren’s Spank! at previous festivals, Anil was also a supporting cast member on Goodness Gracious Me, so be in no doubt of his prestige due to his commitment to the free fringe.  Getting one free show from Anil was impressive, getting two is phenomenal!

Not Indian Enough: Cowgatehead – 5:00pm, Aug 1-24
Last Night at the Movies: Laughing Horse @ City Cafe – 8:00pm, Aug 1-3, 5-10, 12-17, 19-24

Free show, for details CLICK HERE!

 

© The Grandees

© The Grandees

THE GRANDEES: A Creepshow / BaBoom!

Not one, but two new shows from the rapid fire sketch trio described by Hen & Chickens head honcho (and TVO regular) James Wren as “The most inventive, creative, bonkers group I’ve seen since we had the Boosh.”

The trio all appeared in TVO classic The Day They Came to Suck Out Our Brains, and Marny Godden was also in Kill Phil earlier this year, so the TVO connections are strong, marking them as one to watch.

A Creepshow lets the team go dark with creeps, crawlers and chaos, whilst BaBoom! is the latest installment in their sketch comedy madness. See both.

A Creepshow: Heroes @ The Hive – 8:45pm, Aug 1-11, 13-24
BaBoom!: Underbelly, Cowgate – 4:00pm, Aug 1-11, 13-24

For A Creepshow tickets, CLICK HERE! For BaBoom! tickets, CLICK HERE!

 

© Lee Griffith

© Lee Griffiths

LEE GRIFFITHS: Post Traumatic Sketch Disorder / LATE NIGHT GIMP FIGHT: The Worst Of

The biggest crime against comedy nature this year is the lack of a fully fledged show from Fringe veterans Late Night Gimp Fight – TVO favourites and smashing blokes one and all.  But whilst we have to contend with a humble three-night best of from the team, one Gimp is bringing his own unique brand of stand-up to life in his own right.

Lee Griffiths (aka the ‘Head Gimp’) promises a messy, dark and (he hopes) funny show which will unclog the nonsense from his head, and explain in detail why his family is more messed up than yours.

Lee Griffiths: Post Traumatic Sketch Disorder: Pleasance Courtyard – 7:15pm, Aug 1-24
The Worst of Late Night Gimp Fight: Pleasance Courtard – 11:00pm, Aug 21-23

For Lee Griffiths tickets, CLICK HERE! For Late Night Gimp Fight tickets, CLICK HERE!

© Supporting Wall

© Supporting Wall

JONNY & THE BAPTISTS: The Satiric Verses / JONNY DONAHOE: Class Whore

Earlier this year, musical satirists and generally lovely chaps Jonny & The Baptists got into an awful lot of hot water, by pissing off a ‘political’ party with a camptastic disco number.  The duo’s brilliant UK tour subsequently had to be manned by heavy security, and they stoked the fires a little further by collaborating with Mark Thomas to campaign to get ‘farage’ entered into the dictionary as another word for ‘bin juice’. Use it – it’s fun.

Now they’re back in Edinburgh with their latest concoctions. Expect musical treats galore – and if you can’t get enough Jonny, you can see his 2013 solo show ‘Class Whore’ for free towards the end of the month.  Their show will also be transmitted to cinemas nationwide, so stay tuned for more info on that when we get it!

Jonny & The Baptists The Satiric Verses: Pleasance Dome, 9:40pm, Aug 1-10 12-24
Jonny Donahoe, Class Whore: Cowgatehead, 7:30pm, Aug 12-16 19-24

For Jonny & The Baptists tickets, CLICK HERE! For free Jonny Donahoe tickets, CLICK HERE!

And that’s just the tip of the ice berg! With great shows from Nathaniel Metcalfe, Lou Sanders, Susan CalmanAndrew O’Neill, Will Adamsdale, Gareth Morinan and many more on offer, we can’t help but tell you to just take in as much as you can beyond the big guns.  You just may be watching the big stars of tomorrow.

Enjoy the fringe, everyone!

Feast of Feeds

31 Jul

© Richard Gilligan

The BBC have released a series of brand new comedy pilots in the 2014 wave of Comedy Feeds. Showcasing emerging new talent, TVO regulars are involved many of the shows.

The highlights from the Onion crowd are:

OtherwOrld

Written and directed by Mongrels creator, Adam Miller, OtherwOrld is a surreal sketch show set in a parallel universe populated by puppets. Starring Tom Bell, the show features sketches about alien parasites, mismatched pandas and a blow-up doll.

Vodka Diaries

Four women in their late twenties, played by Aisling Bea, Cariad Lloyd, Gwyneth Keyworth and Rosamund Hanson, share a flat and misbehave. The Vodka Diaries follow the lives of the four women and their very different perceptions on life.

In Deep

An action comedy about two young police constables, bored of life on the bottom rung of the ladder, who get in deep when an unexpected case falls suddenly into their laps. Their boss and nemesis, DCI Lehane is played by Paul Kaye.

Fried

Katy Wix plays Mary, the manager of Specially Fried Chicken, who abandons hapless shop assistant Joe to the knife-point of a hungry nugget-demanding hoodie. The sitcom follows life in the shop as she attempts to regain the respect of the staff.

Other pilots in the scheme feature the talents of Jenny Bede, Josh Widdicombe, Jack Dee, Elis James, Tom Rosenthal, Beattie Edmondson and Kayvan Novak (who has a TVO connection through his appearance in Four Lions, amongst others).

All of this year’s Comedy Feeds are available exclusively on iPlayer will be available for a whole year. To watch them and find out more, head to the Comedy Feeds website.

Good Grief Goes Live

29 Jul

Good Grief - the short film written by and starring Rachel Stubbings alongside Alex Kirk - is now available to watch and download for free online.

© Rachel Stubbings

The short was shot last year, and it premièred as part of The Comedy Project in Soho back in April.

Now, audiences around the world can see the film, in which Stubbings and Kirk play a grieving daughter and father, coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.

Laced with Rachel’s dark humour, and graced with flawless performances from both cast members, this is a charming – if oddball – film that you’d be mad not to give twelve minutes of your life to.  Enjoy.

An Early Look At Luxury 2

24 Jul

© Channel 4

Last week we were lucky enough to get a sneaky peek at the new series of Luxury Comedy. So without giving away any spoilers, what can we expect when it finally hits our screens on 31st July?

In interviews about the new series, Noel Fielding has been pretty open about his decision to move away from the sketch show format of series 1, towards a more narrative programme structure with a beginning, middle and an end to each episode. He says it’s because he’s a story-teller at heart, and it’s what he does best. This change of structure is certainly one of the most noticeable differences between the two series. So does it work?

Luxury Comedy is Noel’s stand up in visual form. That’s not to do it down; the fact that anyone has managed to capture the fantastical mayhem that goes on inside Fielding’s mind is impressive enough. Noel’s stand up material is at its best when allowed to slowly weave its shapes, layer upon layer, over a period of time. Stories unfold, characters evolve and concepts crystallise through repetition. By contrast, on the occasions I’ve seen him perform short slots on crowded comedy bills, his ideas don’t always have time to develop. This is not a man for the rat-tat-tat of machine-gun punchlines.

In the same way, expanding his TV ideas into 30-minute stories gives them proper form, allowing the viewer to step inside, appreciate their complexities and get carried along with the narrative. These are ideas rich enough for full episodes; and to reduce each of them to a sketch of a few minutes would underplay them. For me, then, the new format isn’t just about telling stories – it’s about telling strange stories much better.

© Channel 4

The different characters whom we encounter across the series are now part of each week’s story, which gives them purpose and makes the interaction between them feel genuine. The relationships between the characters are one of the aspects of the new series that gives the show its heart. This is no longer a disjointed collection of strange misfits; they’re friends, neighbours, and occasional enemies – as the story requires.

The friendship between the main four – Noel, Dolly, Andy and Smooth, allows for a solid dynamic at the centre of the action. The series 2 versions of the core team feel more ‘human’ and rounded, and as a result more sympathetic than before. Noel, in particular, presents a very different on-screen persona to anything we’ve seen from him previously: awkward, eager to please and uncool, he’s the Howard to Dolly’s preening Vince. Devoid of Howard Moon’s pomposity, however, this Noel is a character with whom we empathise, not just the one we laugh at.

Noel has said that he and Nigel spent longer writing the second series, and this comes across. I loved the first series, but there are more funnier moments in series 2 (based on the two episodes we saw). The writing’s sharp, the physical comedy is hilarious, and the characters are beautifully honed and gloriously wonky at the same time. Look out for star turns throughout from a whole host of TVO faces, including Richard Ayoade, Steve Oram, Dave Brown, Rich Fulcher, Arnab Chanda, Tania Wade, Barunka O’Shaughnessy, Stuart Silver, Simon Farnaby and others.

© Channel 4

This series is arguably the most self-aware output that we’ve ever seen from Fielding, with a number of knowing references to the public reaction that series 1 generated. He’s said that it’s a natural reaction to criticism – you try to get in there first before anyone else does. And it works well in this context, tethering the strange Luxury world to our own experience from time to time (thereby making it more relateable), and imbuing the series with a large helping of humility which, one hopes, the cynics out there will respond positively to.

Added to all of that, Luxury Comedy is still a fabulous feast for the eyes: the distinctive day-glo sets, wardrobe, make-up and animation all combine to create a uniquely visual world. Huge credit to Nigel Coan and his production team for putting it all together; you can see that it’s a labour of love in every single scene.

So will the rest of the world like it? I hope so. If people enjoyed the Boosh and the naysayers can get over their disproportionately extreme reaction to series 1, they would like this. Genuinely funny, beautifully magical and full of heart – what’s not to love?

Don’t forget to tune in: Luxury Comedy series 2 airs at 10pm on E4 on 31st July. For the less patient amongst you, episode 1 is available to view from TODAY –  a whole week early, on 4oD here.

Join The Carnival Of Monsters

23 Jul

© Colin Hoult

Colin Hoult is recording a second radio series of Carnival of Monsters for BBC Radio 4, and you could be in the audience!

Colin will be recreating his unhinged netherworld of oddball characters at the iconic BBC Radio Theatre in London on 6th September and 4th October. To apply for audience tickets for both dates click here. Tickets are free but are limited to 2 per application. Attendees must be over 14.

Having been lucky enough to watch Colin rehearsing and recording some of the episodes from his first series last year, this comes thoroughly recommended. Watching Colin leap from character to character without a moment’s hesitation is a spectacle itself. Plus it’s as funny as it is clever.

Enter if you dare…

Tony & Aisling Stand Up For Shelter

19 Jul
© shelter.org

© shelter.org

If you’re heading to Edinburgh this August, you can catch a whole host of the biggest stars of the Fringe at Stand Up For Shelter; taking place for one night only on Saturday, August 23rd at 9pm, in Bristo Square.

Acts taking part so far include Frisky & Mannish, Max & Ivan, Sara Pascoe, Rob Deering, Tony Law and Aisling Bea with more names to be confirmed.

Tickets are £20 (+£1 booking fee) and all proceeds from the night will go to Shelter, directly helping families facing homelessness across the UK.

Hoult Joins Nurse

16 Jul

© Broadwaybaby

Colin Hoult has been confirmed as an addition to Nurse, a new BBC2 comedy co-written by and starring Paul Whitehouse.

The series, which has just started filming, focuses a community psychiatric nurse as she does her daily rounds visiting the homes of her patients.

Paul Whitehouse takes on the roles of many of her patients and relatives, and he’s joined by a cast which includes Colin, along with Esther Coles Simon Day, Cecilia Noble, Rosie Cavaliero, Jason Maza, Vilma Hollingbery and Ben Bailey Smith.

Previously a successful series on Radio 4, the BBC’s Shane Allen has said of the show: “Nurse has gone down very successfully on radio and we are very excited about the TV version. Nurse gives a sympathetic insight into the world of some of society’s marginalised people. Paul is the leading character comedian of his generation and he has the ability to make you cry with laughter one minute and cry with empathy the next with the characters that he brings to life.”

Four 30 minute episodes are being filmed, with the show due to be broadcast on BBC Two later this year.

This marks another welcome return to our screens for Colin, who has most recently been seen on Derek, with Ricky Gervais.

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