REVIEW: THE COMEDY NETWORK
There are tough crowds and then there are tough crowds. Unfortunately for compare Hayley Ellis, The Lowry’s new comedy night The Comedy Network didn’t begin with the best possible start. From the off things were odd. With an audience that had about as much enthusiasm as a cat watching Crufts, the banter was never going to be great, but good lord it didn’t have to be quite so excruciating. This may cause someone to ask “but, yeah, aren’t good comics supposed to deal with that”. To an extent, yes, but it’s almost impossible to fight against such a level of petulance and disrespect.
So with this as a starting place, there was sadly no hope of the comedy itself going that well. That’s not for want of trying though. Lucy Beaumont was first up, delivering a highly promising set. Standing at around three inches tall, Lucy is deceivingly cute because under the adorable and endearing Hull accent (yes, Hull) lies a very knowing comic who utilises a mannered and controlled style with great effect. Paying attention is not optional. Indeed, she was the only act of the night that kept the rowdiness to a minimum. Beaumont’s take on the big bad world is low-key and brilliantly original and sets her on the path to becoming our next mainstream female comedian; just the right kind of accessible, but with some bite and inventiveness to go with it.
And as quickly as the glimmer of hope came, it was taken away. Gareth Richards finished off proceedings with about as much authority as a dodgy supply teacher. A mismatched set about marriage, children and living in a bungalow, with a few bizarre musical interludes thrown into the mix, lacked any real originality. Observations that have forever been on the wrong side of average revealed big weaknesses that Richards couldn’t recover from (with a ditty about vomit and poo being about as much fun as it sounds).
The show definitely has the right idea about who should be showcased, but nevertheless it was a battle from beginning to end, mainly because it hasn’t quite found the right audience yet.
The Comedy Network returns on October 13th with Phil Wang and Paul McCaffrey.