Wednesday evening was the comedy night of 2013’s Teenage Cancer Trust concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. The evening was hosted by Noel Fielding and Russell Brand, and as you’d expect, we were there to take notes. Velveteer Mog reports:
It’s fair to say that I’ve managed to see Noel Fielding live more times than is strictly necessary and/or healthy. But I’d never seen him perform as The Goth Detectives with Russell Brand until now. This alone was reason enough to warrant a ticket to the TCT Comedy Night. That, and it’s for a good cause.
The Albert Hall is a grand, imposing venue and it was fulll to the rafters with people who had paid up to £50 for a ticket: two facts that might influence one’s expectations about the type of entertainment on offer. I wondered how the Goth Detectives’ somewhat haphazard improvised style would come across. I needn’t have worried: from the moment they skipped on stage holding hands to Love Cats by the Cure, through to the interval, the duo crackled and buzzed with mischief and charm. The audience were putty in their hands, and while the majority of people there were clearly already fans, the Goth Detectives genuinely impressed.
Of particular delight was the opening film, animated in the style of Luxury Comedy‘s Joey Ramone sketch, by Nigel Coan. Visually lovely, created for one night only, and very, very funny – a lot of effort had been put into the film and the crowd appreciated it. Russell and Noel’s search for a secretary, complete with a powerpoint-style chart detailing minimum wage levels and a multiple-choice interview, was well thought-through, and rewarding because of it. Russell’s protestations about removing the attractive blond from the stage because otherwise he would be incapable of concentrating on the show felt fresh and spontaneous. And then there was a wonderful film of the Moon at the end of the first half, where he paid respect to the memory of Neil Armstrong. Yes, The Goth Detectives were shambolic, but there were enough pillars of material to hold everything up, and the chemistry between them kept things bubbling along at a cracking pace.
For me, the second half of the show didn’t quite reach the same dizzying heights, however. There seemed to be fewer moments of considered comedic intent, with the result that the improvised content meandered rather more than it had done previously. The dynamic between the pair also subtly shifted to become less of an equal partnership and more focused around Brand, whose ego is perhaps a tad larger than his cohort’s.
The result of this was a harsher, less nuanced and more bullying second half of the show: crank phonecalls were made to audience member’s families, Philip the student had his hair hacked off and the knob/etc gags were never far away.
Noel seemed less able to fully engage with Brand, who by this point only really had eyes for himself. Whilst the energy levels in the room were still sky high, I think the performance suffered as a result; by the end anarchy ruled the Albert Hall to the extent that no one was quite sure that the show had actually finished.
In between all of this two other performers added some well-received texture and focus: Sheann Walsh presented a fresh, London-centric take on observational comedy (his mime of reaching the upper level of a bus only to find there are no available seats was utter genius), and Tony Law simply knocked people’s socks off. I watched him turn a row of people in front of me from confused to bemused, then to rolling in the aisles. Masterful stuff.
Overall it was a fun night, and all involved should be commended for putting on a show of this scale for free. There’s definitely a spark of magic to be seen between the two Goth Detectives, but whether they’re a viable double act beyond the first half hour remains to be seen.
Before you go, take a look at the short film below about the Goth Detectives Comedy Night made by TCT, then why not head on over to their website to see how you can support the brilliant work that they do?