Brighton Fringe 2017
As it says on the tin….
“Cracking entertainment for everyone over the age of six, we have the best comedians on the UK circuit doing what they do best… but without the rude bits!”
Comedy Club for Kids didn’t start brilliantly. It started at least five minutes late and then an announcer asked over the PA for no heckles. What is this!? The comedians are afraid of children’s heckles!? And perhaps rightly so… The children were already a bit bored and restless.
On came our compere, Tom Webb.
“Give me a cheer if you’re a boy.” Hooray!
“Give me a cheer if you’re a girl.” Hooray!
“Give me a cheer if you’re a man!” Hooray! And so on, 10 times. It was (actually) a fun opener and everything was forgiven. Almost.
The first little, probably inadvertent, “heckle” came from a little boy called Roscoe. he was probably asking why the lights were pretty…. but Tom’s back at him with a putdown about his name. Webb, the compere picked on Roscoe two or three times more in the next 5 mins. Luckily I think Roscoe has a strong heart, and although his father looked uncomfortable, Roscoe seemed to handle it. Just.
Webb’s quick fire “survey” routine was very funny…. for the adults. The children didn’t seem to get it so much.
Then on came the first “proper act” Ben Van Der Velde. Ben started off with a series of pants and fart jokes which would’ve been more funny if it was only boys in the audience. I think some of the girls liked the farting pants jokes too, but it got a bit thin after a while. Ben’s impressions (mostly hair-based) were good… we enjoyed those. And he did really well connecting back-and-forth to his earlier jokes.
Then a set of jocular examples of being a poor father, including references to “catapulting himself in the balls” and “snipers shooting at flamingos.” I didn’t think these last two were really pitched right for the audience age group, which included quite young children. Likewise I found his mice-killing jokes and mice sticking to mouse-paper jokes ill-chosen. I wished he would remember that children like animals. They like little things and they deserve to keep their innocence. And “eating a baby” jokes? No. Plus he needed his notes on his hand to remember his set. Mmm.
Next compere Tom is back and getting children up on the stage. He was brave to do this, but pulled it off with complete aplomb. Little Luca wants to be a cow. Georgia wants to be a pig. The children are running about in all directions and causing mayhem, and Tom handles the chaos quite happily. He gets the young contestants to play Top Trumps with the audience. “Choose”, he says, “who can make the best fart noise? Who is the oldest in the audience? Who can tell the best joke?” It works to wonderful comic effect, mostly the onstage chaos, and as I look down at my preteen daughter she’s grinning and laughing throughout.
My favourite “proper” act was number two, Jay Foreman, a guitarist and creator cum singer of silly songs, pulling wonderfully daft faces as he sang his own crafted pieces with excellent comic timing . One about Grandma. Another: A man covered in jam. Another: trousers (of course). Another: about a human skin sofa… which was far funnier than I can convey here.
Another: a variation on “10 green bottles”. Another called “My car runs on caterpillar sick.” And more.
The songs were brilliantly silly, and a bit dark, but not very, just enough, and the children were listening, laughing, and quietly calmed (after the utter chaos of Tom’s Top Trumps competition) by the music. It was all gently, simply funny. Grounding, yet chuckle-worthy.
When our compere came back out again he got his last heckle which floored him completely, when some little voice shouted out, very loudly, “I saw you in the toilet!”
Overall, it was a lot of fun, a lot of laughs, a lot of joy. And (mostly) age-appropriate.
My daughter loved it, and would have happily given it 4/5. Me too.