I’d not been to the Theatre Royal for some time, but every time I go I wonder why I don’t go there more often. So far as venues in Brighton go, it is definitely in my top 5 (alongside Brighton Komedia, Brighton Dome, Corn Exchange and The Old Market, Hove). Bursting with grandeur and usually filled with the Brightonians on the sophisticated side of middle class, it was great to see the venue used for comedy as well as the usual theatre programme that it offers.
For a Sunday night, notorious a difficult night for people to attend live entertainment (“I have work tomorrow…”), the place was packed almost to capacity, which is always a good sign as sheerly by probability that many people shouldn’t be so wrong in their judgement of what makes a good night out. As the lights dimmed I was ready to be entertained and Live at the Theatre Royal Brighton certainly did not disappoint.
The host for the evening was Canadian comedian Mae Martin who initially cleared the air by acknowledging the fact that she looks like Justin Bieber. What do you think?
Her set was based mainly about her past relationships, neuroses developed from her parents and abbreviating words in a way that seemed both genuine and also slightly cringeworthy – but perhaps that was just me! Mae had all the enthusiasm that you’d want in a host for a show like this, sometimes coming across slightly as a try-hard, but her introductions to Sam Simmons and Adam Buxton were for me the best parts of her set, in particular the anecdotes and impressions of Miriam, a member of her mum’s ‘Goddess Group’.
The first of the three acts was Dane Baptiste, a straight-talking South-East Londoner of Grenadian parentage. Without dwindling on race, which a lot of non-white comedians can often be tempted to do, Dane covered a number of astute observations including reasons why the new James Bond being black could pose multiple issues for the story line, the decline in roles for ‘little people’ due to the enhancements in CGI and the differences in attitudes to dating since the 90s. His confident delivery brought his performance home and he is definitely somebody that I would like to see perform again soon.
Next on the bill was Award-winning off-the-wall Aussie comedian Sam Simmons with a routine ranging from slightly odd to flat out bizarre. His set was a mish-mash of impressions, conversations with himself (literally in conversation form with a voice-over playing the second role throughout his act), strange prop-based jokes and other obscure antics which needed to be seen to be believed. Whilst not always to my personal tastes, the audience seemed to really react to his routine ( I guess that says a lot about Brighton as a whole) and the more eccentric he became, the more the laughs followed.
Finally, after some technical issues with the projector cropping off about 30% of the screen, Adam Buxton began what was exactly what we were all hoping for, essentially a brand new episode of his YouTube hit series BUG, a show that looked at the latest videos on YouTube and ripped to shreds the comments left on them. Interspersed with short home-made videos, expertly Photoshopped images and presentations, a set by Adam Buxton feels like the best university lecture you’ve ever attended – with a presentation actually worth watching .
The themes for this particular set included the mispronunciations of ‘Zavid Bowie’, the John Lewis ‘Man on the Moon’ Christmas advert and his other work projects including testing the slipperiness of a pub toilets floors. A highlight for me was Adam’s highly professional dance routine to David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ – those hours toiling away at Pineapple Studios in London had clearly paid off. The headline set was everything that the audience had hoped it would be, but definitely felt like it could have lasted a little longer. Perhaps if there had not been the technical issues at the start of his set, we would have heard the file on his laptop labelled BOND song – hopefully this will emerge another time.
Having never been to a comedy night at the Theatre Royal before, I am convinced that it is a great venue for it and think that if these nights were taking place on a monthly basis, the venue would continue to draw in new crowds and be visited by a wider demographic of people from Brighton.