Class act, but don't think of a toilet break

Evening Post, 14 Nov 2005

RICH HALL Playhouse

How to watch stand-up comedy, lesson one: If you’re in the front row, try to make sure you won’t have to step out to go to the toilet.

When a woman made that mistake in front of Rich Hall last night, she returned to discover he had questioned her boyfriend and was now composing a song about her. A serenade, rather. He’d got as far as the discovery that “Sarah” backwards was “harass”.

However — lesson two — if you must walk out from the front row, and risk coming back, there are many worse people to try it on than Hall.

He brings to wayward audience members the same mixture of good nature, confusion and controlled rage that he applies to sexual politics, actual politics (“I don’t have any answers. It’s not like I’m a folk singer”), London transport and camping in his native Montana. And his songs are pretty good, even when he’s improvising.

He can spend ten minutes building to an outraged comic realisation, as here in an elaborate routine on the building of the Hubble Space Telescope; and he can spot a chance for the same effect in the crowd, or the set, and grab it with the same force. This is a class act on peak form.