Live At Brighton Dome

Brighton’s answer to Live At The Palladium doesn’t pull any punches it its bookings. A great line-up placed some of the currently hottest comedic talent onto one bill, serving up the sumptuous Saturday night meal of comedians any venue would love to have.

First up was Desiree Birch, most recently seen on the BBC’s zeitgeist topical show The Mash Report. Good material, not afraid to get into a bit of filth and keep it classy with solid punchlines, although a slower pace would’ve left more time for each laugh to land and for Birch to catch her breath occasionally.

Then Mark Watson, not unfamiliar with this stage from his own previous solo tours, and this time exposing a little darker edge to his usual self-mockery of a man battling against the perils and obstacles of modern life. His recent divorce served this up, adding an exciting frisson to an already practised and expert comic sense and bringing up the question of a new tone to his material. Tone aside, the set felt fresh and personal and highly engaging.

Closing the night, and exploring his own new and exposing direction was James Acaster. Three times Edinburgh Award nominee and with a selection of Netflix specials out now, Acaster was on fire and provoking a revelry of delight. Playfully trying out a new “edgy” turn to start with, and moving into fresh territory of personal anecdotes rather than his previous whimsical make-believe, this is a man who is unafraid to try new directions and to state his piece articulately and with style. His closing Brexit section was a genuinely strong argument for a second referendum, not pulling punches and skilfully not picking a fight.

The whole evening was carefully MC’d by the ever-cheeky Ed Gamble, playing with the audience, warming them up, sharing his own debacles, and delighting in a great rapport with the front row.

As great as watching stand-up on television can be, it doesn’t hold a candle to the live experience – as demonstrated so deftly by the Live At Brighton Dome nights: a simply great idea.

Brighton Dome, 10 November 2018
Rating: ★★★★½
Victoria Nangle

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