The latest Fulchfest has been a long time coming. Since the last one Rich Fulcher has been busy: promoting Snuffbox in the States, gigging in LA, cycling around London on Boris Bikes and getting married (congratulations Rich!). Luckily for us he’s decided to end the year with a bang, returning to the Bull & Gate with a Christmassy gathering of off-the-wall comedy. Velveteers Mog and Paulyne were there to take notes:
Between us we’ve covered pretty much every Fulchfest. In the past we’ve reviewed Rich Fulcher’s evening of comedy with a string of descriptors along the lines of “mad”, “crazy” and “unhinged”. However, the latest Fulchfest featured a handful of artists who took things further than that. By some degree. When Rich Fulcher is the most mellow performer on stage, you know it’s going to be a fun night. What united the evening’s acts was their ability to string together a seemingly random sequence of abnormal behaviours into a narrative story with genuine, if nonsensical, meaning. To be honest any attempted review of the evening will barely touch the sides; but I’ll give it a go!
The tone is appropriately set by the first act, John Kearns, who manages to be both threatening and ridiculous at the same time. Imagine a large man in pink satin stilettos, manically shrieking along to ‘Jet’ by Wings while straddling an audience member. Whatever image that conjures up in your imagination, it’s a heck of lot weirder in real life. And seriously bloody funny.
Kearns is followed by US comedian and Fulcher-lookalike, Dave Hill, who after a slowish start builds to unleash proper belly laughs with his revelations about Japanese toilets. He is clearly a man without shame, and tonight that’s a very good thing indeed; normal rules do not apply.
Further highlights come in the second half. ‘Extreme surrealist’ Doctor Brown is unlike anyone or anything we’ve seen before (Paulyne has seen him before and was still amazed by his antics tonight!). For anyone unfamiliar with Doctor Brown I can only describe him as part mime-artist, part visual comedian, part serial killer. Within two minutes of his arrival (dressed as a 1970s tennis pro) he’d lifted one audience member upside down onto his head and yanked off his trousers – all in complete silence. Impossible to describe, dangerous and brilliant. Seek him out.
Doctor Brown is followed by Australian comic Sam Simmons, who combines recordings, energetic ‘dance’, and pin-sharp silliness to create a clever and downright hilarious set. It feels a bit like you’re watching all of the world’s TV stations at once, until questions such as “Car crash or orgasm?” start to mean something. By this point in the evening flawed logic is the only type that makes any sense. Amazing stuff.
Within this stellar line up, the Crabs (indie scenesters with comedy songs) don’t quite make the grade, and Pete Hathway, Fulchfest’s resident magician (like Dynamo, but cooler) isn’t quite as shit-hot as we know he can be, although he still evokes a fair few gasps from the audience with his impossible-to-explain wizardry.
The madness is artfully woven together by the Rich Fulcher Players, with a seriously un-pc storyline involving a children’s home founded by Gary Glitter and Jesus’s promotion of the Iceland Christmas food range. These sections manage to be as eye-poppingly funny as the comedians that they weave around, and are brilliantly crafted and executed for maximum laughs.
The cherry on top of all of this is provided by the deadpan Brett Domino Trio (renamed “Happy Jismas” for the evening by Rich), who manage to perfectly echo the mood of the audience and the activities on stage with just a keytar and a couple of Christmas jumpers. It feels like the duo have really found their groove and it’s huge fun to watch.
We end the evening feeling properly spoiled; to see this much good comedy on one bill is a real pleasure. We’re already counting down the days until the next Fulchfest. Rich, please don’t leave it so long next time!
Editor’s Note: Many thanks to Ben Meadows for his fab photography.