- February 10, 2019
Ivo Graham sauntered onto the stage to start proceedings, welcoming the packed crowd and then turning his focus to one front corner, carefully mixing his knowing privileged persona with an approachability allowing for audience interaction – thereby deftly turning this filled to the rafters Concert Hall into an intimately inclusive show from the off. An unusual compere but an enjoyable one, building up the acts to come and flagging up some not small interest in his own forthcoming solo show by the end of the night.
First up on the bill was Suzi Ruffell, filled with energy and bouncing on her heels as if the punchlines were packed so tightly within her they were jostling to get out. Nicely written, smartly performed – occasionally a little too fast leaving me mourning a missed punchline, but not for long as another would be hot on its heels. Of especial enjoyment was a section on a smear test she said had happened this week, with writing fresh as a daisy and testimony that she really is one to watch as the speed of her professional writing turnaround is impressive and a delight.
The middle section started with Jamali Maddix, bringing a different South London non-white narrative to proceedings. Possibly with a bit too much of a ‘big man’ persona about him, his set covering his past criminal activities and a story about defending a fellow public transport passenger was engagingly put together with some good punchlines, but failed to always find its connection every time. His name is collecting a buzz about it, and you get the feeling that he is probably more used to playing to crowds more familiar with his tone, meaning some shorthand was lost on the newer crowd.
Following Maddix was Phil Wang, familiar to many from his stint on Dave’s Taskmaster programme. An interesting new perspective, bringing forth perceptions of Asian masculinity and the like, but the set didn’t always feel fully formed in its performance –although the glimpses you got of the completed material or punchlines were highly enjoyable.
Finally Mo Gilligan headlined, and he truly was a great deal of fun. As soon as stepped on to the stage there was an energy about him not dissimilar to American stadium comedians, a steady compact confidence that was entirely warranted and a work ethic his audience would utterly benefit from. Sticking closely to storytelling (not to be distracted by random audience revellers, he) Gilligan vividly painted a picture of his relationship with his mother, his new flat, and his youth, employing some music, a smidge of dance, and a brilliant conviction. Expect to have his DVD box set or entire Netflix collection as a part of your comedy canon within the next decade – a real treat to look forward to in the future.
Brighton Dome, 8 February 2019