the rest of the world watches a momentous never-to-be-repeated occasion
unfold, you can't help but wonder whether you've made the right
choice. It's like that stab of 'plate envy' you get when a companion's
meal arrives, looking far more appetising than your own.
then discover that key ingredients of your evening's menu are not
available (John Hegley/Kevin Eldon didn't show), you start to feel
like some higher force is punishing you for not doing your bit to
'make poverty history'.
the acts which did appear did their best to keep things buoyant
until the main attraction arrived. Proceedings kicked off with mild-mannered
Bradford poet Nick Toczek, creating polite amusement with clever
wordplay and childish rhyme. He didn't do himself any comedy favours
by reading a lengthy passage from his novel, but the audience seemed
too good-natured to punish him for it.
Lockyer, a willowy comedy songstress followed. Cradling her guitar,
she introduced herself as someone who 'writes silly songs'. Normally
Richard Digence-style comedy songwriters are enough for me to take
off a shoe and throw it hard, but Lockyer was too likeable for that
- with singalong Victoria Wood-style whimsy on topics dear to a
lady's heart - body image, men and chocolate.
Shazia Mirza took us to the interval (which seemed all too quick
to arrive - probably due to the holes in the line-up). Her Pakistani
background and Birmingham upbringing were a rich source of original
material and she garnered the first big laughs of the night - on
topics such as wearings burkas ('It allows an entire family to share
a bus pass') and the catcalls of Middle Eastern builders ('Get your
second act kicked off with Birds Of Paradise, an impressive yet
sedate display of trapeze and acrobatic work. Two lasses in leotards
covered in feathers hung from a giant ring above the stage and did
a range of stretches and clings as Tony Hart style music and rainforest
noises played in the background. Feathers kept falling mysteriously
from the sky above them - either for effect, or because some giant
bird was flying about in the rafters holding the ring!
was with some relief that we returned to the comedy with Dylan
Moran's welcome arrival on the stage. Never, I'll wager,
has his warm up act been a couple of lithe human budgies.
Floyd: Is Dylan Moran related to TV chef Keith?
stig of the dump hair and grumpy demeanour instantly evoke images
of his wickedly funny and well-loved Black Books show. And in stand-up,
he doesn't disappoint. Frequently smoking and quaffing wine as he
bumbles about the stage, he looks like a cross between Keith Floyd
and an Irish Columbo. Though he appears to lumber from topic to
topic, his ability to riff with the audience shows a far sharper
mind that he lets on. His observations on modern chiselled musicians
('who get their arse flown in on a different plane'); on in-flight
food ('should I have red or white wine with this fried roof slate!');
and fat men's undercarriages ('which live in a state of perpetual
clamminess') garnered big laughs and truly saved the day. An unmissable
we all still got home to see Paul McCartney and co. wrap up Live
8 with Hey Jude, so any pangs of regret swiftly passed.