Last night saw the decade’s third and final Fulchfest, Rich Fulcher’s chaotic, fun, and often times brilliant monthly comedy extravaganza at The Bull & Gate in Kentish Town. Paulyne and Mog, our North London Velveteers, were there to bear witness for TVO:
Before I summarise the night of Fulchitivities, I have to stress that it was not a Christmas show! From the opening Rich pressed that we weren’t going to see a seasonal special. It didn’t matter about the new-style Christmas carols sung by the Rich Fulcher Players, the big knitted seasonal-looking jumpers, or the finale which included a shower of snow foam cascading down throughout the venue. It wasn’t a Christmas show.
Once that was out of the way the show took a darker turn when Rich had to break it to his Players (who were the astounding Sarah Daykin, Matt Addis and Arnab Chanda) and to us observers, that he has a tumour. The show must go on however, and we got to see an amazing selection of acts, including Waen Shepherd, who astounded the audience with his baffling, high-energy songs (something about monkeys, deaf kids and shoes?) written during his early days as a trio with his 2 brothers – but sung solo last night as the other two had passed away – but this wasn’t mentioned to us until after 5 minutes of applauding them onto the stage.
Another act who was welcomed warmly into the venue was Dan Clark, who was supposedly on the rusty side with his stand up after a dry spell away from the stage, but still stormed it. There were several audience members around us who mentioned that they were there for him, so he was obviously a spot-on addition to the line-up, and didn’t falter. Joined by Jimmy Simms on bass, Clark chimed about Justin Beiber and his little-to-zero contribution to the world, Simon Cowell in the closet, and his Greek GP with the nothing but brilliant name Pippa Papadopulos.
The night was a sight to behold, and having observed a grown man give birth with a Jelly Baby shaped tumour, a Victorian gent belting out the line “Where’s my willy!?”, closely followed by another apparent adult male dancing in a leather thong wearing a geisha mask, you know that nothing can measure up, which screams nothing but success in my books.
To be honest, when we reviewed the first Fulchfest in October I struggled to articulate in my own head what the evening was about. “Endearingly chaotic”, “definition defying” and other awkward phrases sprung most readily to mind. It was certainly fun – and it had its highs, but overall it was tied together by a sprawling web of chaos.
What a difference 2 months makes! The chaos has grown an energy and purpose that makes it genuinely funny rather than troubling, and the highs are constant and brilliant. Now my struggles to describe the evening are driven by my inability to do it justice. This time post-Fulchfest I feel like someone gorged-out on Pick ‘n’ Mix: I know I loved it, but I’m too dizzy with its variety to recall the specifics.
That said, my personal (somewhat jumbled) highlights were: Waen Shepherd who, as mentioned above, achieved the impossible of making Rich seem understated! Ross Lee’s physics-defying legs; Carl Einar-Hackner, the Swedish comedian/magician in an Elvis jumpsuit, who proved the unfair rule that some people are inherently more hilarious than others. I genuinely feared Paulyne might die laughing during his bandana/banana mix-up. If you get the chance to catch him during his current run at the Roundhouse, go see! Dan Clark’s set was cleverly sharp and playfully silly in equal measures – a genuine pleasure to watch (more Clarks please!). And of course Rich himself, with the madness and energy levels of a hundred men – and the inhibition centre of his brain seemingly removed.
Sadly, the final 2 acts didn’t quite reach the peaks of what preceded them. Adam Buxton’s commentary on popular culture certainly had its moments (his Gwen Stefani video and his analysis of youtube comments were both excellent), but overall it felt like he was over-reliant on pre-produced material for a rough and ready live gig. And poor Tim Ten Yen, who performed long after we’d had our fill of comedy gold, and who ended up playing to an emptying venue as the audience raced to get the last tube.
Overall though, for quality and sheer quantity of comedy acts you’d be hard-pushed to beat last night’s Fulchfest. The over-capacity venue was a testimony to how far it has come in only 3 shows. Here’s to many more in 2011 and beyond!